The Consumers’ Institute of New Zealand has published a study that accuses breakfast cereals marketed at children of containing too much sugar and lacking nutritional value.

Of the 26 cereals tested by the consumer watchdog, over half contained at least one-third sugar and were so low in nutrients that the Institute concluded it could not recommend any to consumers.

David Russell, Consumers’ Institute chief executive, said that breakfast cereal manufacturers were adding to NZ’s childhood obesity problem and tooth decay.

“It’s a combination of high sugar content marketed specifically to children and the end result is going to be bad teeth and fatter kids,” Russell said.

However, Hubbards Foods marketing manager Julia van de Coolwijk told the Southland Times that consumers demanded high sugar content. Two years ago, the company reduced the sugar content of its Bugs ‘n’ Mud cereal by 25%, but sales dropped and the company was forced to increase sugar levels again, Coolwijk said. The cereal now contains more than 40% sugar.