Children in New Zealand could be consuming up to 8-and-a-half tablespoons of sugar before lunchtime, revealed a survey of new compulsory nutrition labels by the Green Party.

Comparing breakfast cereals, three brands were found to consist of more than half of their weight in sugar. A further 18 brands contained more than 25% sugar.

Green Party health spokeswoman Sue Kedgley commented to Stuff: “They should be called breakfast candy, not breakfast cereal.”

The findings show that if a child eats a bowl of cocoa snaps for breakfast, and has a mid morning snack of two small muesli bars and a power drink, he or she would have eaten 107 grams of sugar, equivalent to over eight tablespoons of sugar.

Kedgley said that this amount of sugar, only clearly revealed since labelling rules implemented on 7 December last year meant that manufacturers have to disclose nutritional information on food packaging, highlights a serious health issue. High sugar intake, she warned, could cause dental decay, obesity and diabetes.