'Healthy' breakfast biscuits, drinks not all they're cracked up to be


8 in 10 on-the-go products sugary, expensive: survey

Eight in ten on-the-go breakfast products, such as biscuits, drinks and yoghurt/cereal combos, contain more sugar than the staple wheat biscuits and milk and are up to 18 times more expensive, a new study from LiveLighter has revealed.

As the range of breakfast biscuits and other breakfast snack products expands in Australia, LiveLighter has compared the nutritional value, cost and health claims displayed on 65 individually packaged items promoted as ideal for breakfast or the morning meal in Coles, Woolworths and Aldi.

The survey found the following had more sugari than the low-sugar breakfast classic of two wheat biscuits and milkii:

  • All 19 (or 100%) regular sized breakfast drinks
  • 13 out of 17 (or 76%) chilled breakfast products (e.g. yoghurts, chia puddings)
  • 18 out of 25 (or 72%) breakfast biscuits and on-the-go mueslis.

A further 4 out of 4 (or 100%) large breakfast drinks had more sugar than 4 wheat biscuits and milkiii.

LiveLighter Dietitian Sian Armstrong said while these ready-to-eat breakfast options might seem like an ideal solution on a busy morning, they’re hiding more sugar than a typical healthy breakfast.

“Some on-the-go breakfast products are hiding 9.5 teaspoons of sugar, which is around double the amount of sugar in wheat biscuits and milk.

While some of the sugar is from milk or yoghurt, that’s still a very sugary way to start the day! And because most of these products are heavily processed, they’re less likely to keep you full, so you’ll probably be reaching for a snack or a second breakfast sooner,” Ms Armstrong said.

Breakfast biscuits were particularly concerning, as many offered little more nutritionally than a regular sweet biscuitiv.

“Breakfast biscuits are basically just sweet biscuits, but with a higher price tag and a healthy halo. They’re highly processed and some were more than 25 per cent sugar, very little of which is naturally occurring from fruit or milk,” Ms Armstrong said.

“Too much added sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity, which can increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

“If you wouldn’t think of reaching for the biscuit tin for breakfast, don’t fall into the trap of reaching for a breakfast biscuit. To stay satisfied for longer on busy mornings, choose a piece of fruit, some low-fat yoghurt, a boiled egg or a handful of nuts instead.”

The majority of the breakfast products were also much more expensive than a typical breakfast, costing up to $4.50 per serve – that’s 18 times the price of two wheat biscuits and milk, which only costs 24 centsv.

LiveLighter Campaign Manager Alison McAleese said at a time when Australians get up to 40 per cent of their energy from heavily processed junk food and sugary drinksvi, we can’t afford to be replacing breakfast with yet another sugary snack.

“Breakfast is a key time in the day to eat many valuable nutrients. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating foods from a wide variety of food groups and a healthy breakfast is a useful time to eat more core foods like grainy breads or cereals, milk, fruit, yoghurt or eggs. We also know that people who regularly eat breakfast tend to eat an overall healthier diet for the rest of the day,” Ms McAleese said.

LiveLighter is calling on manufacturers to stop promoting high-sugar on-the-go breakfast products as a nutritious start to the day.

“Many breakfast biscuits, drinks and other ready-to-eat products appear healthy and are promoted with phrases like ‘rich in cereals’, ‘active cultures’ and as having ‘the energy and fibre of two Weet-Bix and milk’ on the label,” Ms McAleese said.

“This is not the full story, especially when you consider that some of these products have an extra four teaspoons of sugar than a bowl of wheat biscuits and milk.

“We want food companies to stop making these highly processed, sugar-laden products seem healthier than they are.”

For a convenient, healthy breakfast without the high price tag and marketing spin, LiveLighter recommends one or a couple of the following:

  • A banana or other piece of fruit
  • A glass or small carton of plain milk
  • An egg or cheese sandwich made with wholegrain bread
  • Reduced-fat plain yoghurt with fresh or frozen fruit
  • A handful of nuts
  • A boiled egg
  • Avocado on wholegrain toast
  • Chilled overnight oats.

For more healthy tips and resources, visit www.livelighter.com.au

About the study

LiveLighter identified single-serve packaged products marketed as ‘on the go’ breakfast foods and drinks (n=65) sold in Coles, Woolworths and Aldi in Prahran and Camberwell (Melbourne) stores in July 2017. This included products which featured words and phrases like ‘morning’ or ‘start the day’ in their marketing and on the label, implying they’re suitable for breakfast.

View the Key Findings