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Amount of sugar in Australian breakfast cereals is not associated with energy density or glycaemic index: Results of a systematic survey


  • Bill Shrapnel, MHP, APD, Director

Correspondence: B. Shrapnel, Shrapnel Nutrition Consulting Pty Ltd, Nutrition, 10 Blackwood Close, Beecroft, NSW 2119, Australia. Email:



It has been suggested that sugar intake may be linked to the risk for obesity and, although the mechanisms remain unclear, energy density and glycaemic index (GI) may be relevant. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationships between sugar content, energy density and GI in Australian breakfast cereals.


A systematic survey of all breakfast cereals available for sale in Sydney, Australia, was conducted. A dietitian purchased samples of every complying cereal available for sale in supermarkets in the Sydney area. Data on total sugars were drawn from Nutrition Information Panels, and GI data were obtained from the Glycemic Index Database and on-pack information. Cereals were grouped into ‘all cereals’ and ‘ready-to-eat cereals’. Regression analyses were conducted to determine the relationships between total sugars and energy density and between total sugars and GI.


A total of 312 breakfast cereals were collected, of which 167 were ready-to-eat cereals. There was no relationship between sugar content and energy density in either group of cereals. GI information was available for 43 products, of which 32 were ready-to-eat cereals. There was no association between sugar content and GI in either cereal group.


The sugar content of breakfast cereals is a poor indicator of energy density and GI. The continued focus on sugar in dietary guidelines and nutrition advice may need to be reconsidered, at least in relation to solid foods.