General Mills' moves to lower the amount of sugar it puts into cereals aimed at children has put the US food giant ahead of its competitors Kellogg and Post Foods, a leading consumer watchdog has claimed.

Margon Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, praised General Mills' decision to lower the amount of sugar in kids cereals to "single-digit grams per serving".

"This puts General Mills ahead of Kellogg and Post," Wootan told just-food. "As sugary cereal is one of the top products marketed to children, we hope the company swiftly implements these changes and that Kellogg, Post Foods and other competitors quickly follow General Mills' lead."

Jeff Harmening, president of General Mills' Big G cereal division, said that, as part of the company's moves to cut sugar, its cereals aimed at children would contain at least 11 grams of sugar per serving by the spring.

Harmening, however, went to say that General Mills was "committed to reaching single-digit levels".

Jim Marks, senior vice president of the health group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, welcomed General Mills' move but said he remained "concerned" about the nutritional content of children's cereals across the industry

Marks said the foundation would like "to see the start of a virtuous cycle where each company strives to make their food even healthier than their competitor's".

He also expressed concern at rising obesity rates among adults and said "there certainly is room" for manufacturers to make products aimed at adults "lower calorie and healthier".

However, Marks told just-food: "The reason why we are so concerned with children's cereal is that, on average, cereal companies have marketed their least healthy products to children, and the increase in obesity in children has been much worse than in adults. So this is an area of our food system that desperately needs improvement."