Muesli Bars

Reporter: Susan Couhbor

Anne-Marie says “there's a lot of choices and a lot of different ingredients on the packaging that us mums simply don't understand.”

Caron says “I think many people will be surprised ... As some of the ones that are most visible are not often the best. “ Bars ... They've become the ultimate on-the-go snack food ... And their numbers on our supermarket shelves are multiplying ...you go into a supermarket and there's half an isle dedicated to them ... But while muesli bars, breakfast bars and fruit bars are often marketed as healthy options ... Adelaide mum Angela Evans isn't convinced ...I really got looking at the food labels and found that a lot of them were very full of fat and sugar ... ... She says, given how many are now available ... Finding the ones that are nutritious, can be a difficult and time-consuming exercise.

Angela says “unless you really know what you're looking for, it's so hard to find the right ones.”, and with one in four aussie kids now either over-weight or obese ... It's no wonder mums, like Angela are becoming increasingly concerned about the choices they make ...

Caron says “the amount of fat and sugar in some of these products is outstanding ... Some breakfast bars and muesli bars do have up to two-thirds of the sugar content of chocolate or two thirds of the fat of chocolate.” According to Adelaide dietitian Caron Melham, reading nutrition labels is the only way to get an accurate idea of what you're buying ... “however, a lot of our clients actually ask us, what are the best products? I can't be bothered reading tables, it's too hard, or I haven't got time, just tell us what to buy.”

So, she's agreed to just that ... Caron and her team assessed every muesli bar, muffin bar, breakfast bar and fruit bar they could find, in the major supermarkets ... The dietitians were looking at very important nutritional criteria. All products were assessed for their added sugar content, their fat content, fibre, salt, nutrients and calories.

Caron says “what we're focusing on here is the average person who is trying to lose or control their weight as well ... And want a healthy eating pattern.”

Her results a little later...

Adelaide mum Anne Marie ashendon makes every effort to read the nutrition tables, but admits ... There's so much fine detail on the packets... She's can get confused. I often spend a lot of time reading labels, it's still hard ... There isn't a lot of choice as in healthy ... With a muesli bar.” As you can see, her three-year-old boy Damien loves muesli bars ... But Anne Marie says he's only allowed to eat them as a special treat ... there isn't one that I would be totally happy with, that I would recommend, no.”

Well, now to Caron's results..... ... And the good news is, there are some healthy options available ...”There is some positive nutritional benefits in all the products we've chosen today.”

The products Caron will recommend all have less than 160 calories ... And are low in fat and salt ... None have more than 25% added sugar if at all ... And all muesli bars contain some dietary fibre.

“We've broken the products into three different categories. Based on the 'best' ... 'Second to best' ... And the 'third to best' ...”

The best ones, according to Caron, were freedom foods hi-lite breakfast bars, go-natural 100% fruit bar, sunripe school strips, angas park 100% fruit straps, fruit wise 100% fruit straps, orgran fruit bar .. No added sugars whatsoever ... And less than five percent fat ... “those that have been categorised as 'best' parents can be confident that they are good choices for their children and family.”

The second place getters are these weight watchers real fruit cereal bars, freedom foods super berry breakfast bar, leda gluten free baked fruit filled bars, uncle toby's rainbow roll-ups... Again, less than five percent fat with natural sugar from fruit making up most, if not all ... Of the sugar component. “from a weight of health point of view, the ones that are in the 'fair' or the 'third group' are better than the standard product that didn't make a mention with us, however they're probably not the best option to include on a daily basis.”

And here they are ... The products in this section are kellogg's k-time bars, coles oven baked fruit bars, uncle toby's crunchy & chewy range, freedom foods muesli breakfast bars, norganic crunchola & chewy breakfast bars, nestle ski d'lite muesli bars, uncle toby's twistables & reels all did moderately well on the nutrition front ... And many have less than five percent fat.