March 21, 2019
Woman picking out food at a grocery store.
Wellness Tip

'Lightly Sweetened' Foods? Be Skeptical!

by Wellness Letter  

Don’t assume that foods labeled “lightly sweetened” have just a touch of sugar.

A case in point is Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats Blueberry cereal, which bears that tagline on the front of the box but has 12 grams of added sugar (nearly 3 teaspoons) per 2-ounce serving.

That’s not an extreme amount of sugar (many cereals contain far more), but it supplies a quarter of the total calories in the cereal and a quarter of the daily sugar limit set by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for someone consuming 2,000 calories a day (no more than 10 percent of calories from added sugar).

The term “lightly sweetened” is not defined by the FDA and so could mean anything. The same is true of “low sugar.” More trustworthy label terms are the FDA-approved “sugar free” and “no sugar added.”

By the way, that “blueberry” in the Kellogg’s cereal comes from artificial colors and added flavorings, not fruit.

This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.

Also see Now on the Menu: Calorie Labels.