Thursday, 30 June 2011

Cereal Killer

I don't know about the rest of you, but I spend far too much of my time in supermarkets reading the backs of cereal packets. I really like breakfast cereal, and seem to think that as a consequence it is a worthwhile use of my time to obsess over exactly how bad for me it is. Unfortunately, there are quite a few different parameters at play when it comes to assessing how nutritious (or otherwise) a particular cereal is, and so I thought I'd devise a simple metric to help me decide quite how guilty I should feel about my bowl of sugar. To keep it straightforward, I decided to focus on the three factors I think are most important: calories, sugar and fibre.

Now, in my rather simplistic school of nutrition, calories and sugar are Bad, and fibre is Good. What's more, calories and sugar are equally as Bad as fibre is Good, and so to calculate how Good overall a cereal is I simply take its fibre content per 100g (as a % of one's guideline daily amount (GDA)), and subtract from this the equivalent number of calories and amount of sugar. It's pretty crude (most notably for not taking into account what type of sugar we're talking about), but who has the time to worry about such things? I ultimately standardise these numbers so the best cereal scores 100 and the worst scores 0, with numbers in between reflecting how far along this scale a particular product is.

Crunching (y'know, like Crunchy Nut) the numbers on some of the major cereals (mostly Kellogg's, but with a couple of Weetabix ones thrown in for good measure), I can exclusively reveal the first ever Statscream Cereal Assessment Ranking:

  1. All Bran (100.0)
  2. Bran Flakes (56)
  3. Weetabix (55)
  4. Raisin Wheats (45)
  5. Frosted Wheats (41)
  6. Fruit 'n' Fibre (34)
  7. Corn Flakes (28)
  8. Just Right (21)
  9. Rice Krispies (20)
  10. Special K (19)
  11. Honey Loops (19)
  12. Krave (11)
  13. Crunchy Nut (2)
  14. Coco Pops (1)
  15. Frosties (0)
It's perhaps little surprise at either end of the scale, although All Bran's utter dominance is perhaps a little disheartening. Of the also-rans I reckon Frosted Wheats offer the best tastiness-to-healthiness ratio, although clearly this is something that needs to be taken into account in a future model. There are also plenty of cereals that could be included, but time is finite after all. If you'd like to know how your particular (non-Nestlé) cereal fares, let me know and I'll run the numbers (if, somehow, you don't quite have the motivation to do it yourself).