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Are your kids cereal eaters?

Posted by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 5:24 AM
  • 10 Replies

Kids' cereals are healthier, ads aren't

U.S. food companies are making breakfast cereal for children healthier by doing cutting sugar and adding whole grains, but they are offsetting those benefits by targeting kids with more ads for their unhealthiest products, according to a report issued on Friday.

The findings, from the "Cereal Facts" study from Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, land amid growing alarm over diet-related health costs in the United States - where nearly one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese.

Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center, applauded recipe tweaks that have improved the nutrition profile of cereals from companies like Kellogg Co, General Mills Inc and Post Holdings Inc, but said there is still ample room for improvement.

"It's not enough and the companies are still using all their marketing muscle to push their worst cereals on children," Brownell said.

Spending to promote child-targeted cereals totaled $264 million in 2011, up 33 percent from 2008, according to the study, which followed up a similar report from three years ago.

The report called out aggressive marketing of cereals like General Mills' Reese's Puffs, Kellogg's Froot Loops and Post's Fruity Pebbles to children. It said those brands rank among the lowest for nutrition and the highest for added sugar.

Regular Cheerios and Frosted Mini-Wheats have some of the highest nutrition scores, but ads for those products are more likely to be targeted at adults, the report said.

"Rudd tends to look at the glass half empty. I look at it as half-full and rising," said Elaine Kolish, director of the Council of Better Business Bureaus' Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), a voluntary self-regulation program for food marketed to children.

Food and beverage companies in the United States have fended off government oversight of marketing to children by promising to police themselves through CFBAI. Participants, including Kellogg, General Mills and Post, have agreed to adhere to nutrition criteria for products advertised to children under the age of 12.

"Changing kids' taste preferences takes time and effort. The notion that kids could stop eating Froot Loops and go and have Grape-Nuts, with all due respect to Grape-Nuts, to me is unrealistic and not practical," Kolish said, referring to the whole-grain cereal Post cereal promoted by the late Euell Gibbons, who advocated natural diets in the 1960s.

Before CFBAI was founded, some cereals had 15 to 16 grams of sugar per serving. Now, she said, most have no more than 10 grams of sugar -- or about 2.5 teaspoons -- per serving.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than half of discretionary calories come from added sugars.

Based on that AHA guideline and data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, inactive to moderately active young children, on average, should consume no more than 20 grams of added sugar per day, the report's authors said.

They added that their own research showed that children, on average, consume twice the indicated serving of breakfast cereal.

"Before they leave the house in the morning, children eating these pre-sweetened cereals will have consumed as much sugar as they should eat in an entire day," they said.

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by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 5:24 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Sarah on Jun. 25, 2012 at 8:43 AM

 my kids eat cereal but not sugar loaded cereal.   I taught my kids at a young age how to read labels, so they know to look at the box before even asking me if they can have it

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 8:49 AM

 My kids love cereal but I try not to allow them to have the sugar laden ones.

by Meghan on Jun. 25, 2012 at 1:41 PM
My kids will eat any kind of cereal
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by Megan on Jun. 25, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Well all love cereal! I will confess, my favorite is Cinnamon Toast Crunch. :) Always has been.

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 3:00 PM

I had no idea frosted mini wheats had a pretty good score, kind of cool!

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 9:33 PM

Yes. Some are good for them, some aren't. I prefer grainy cereals or oatmeal. For some reason cereal is an empty meal for me. No matter how much I eat of any kind of cereal I never feel full and I'm hungry again in minutes. 

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 11:15 PM

if you have a winco foods in your area. they have a natural allternative to that its basically the same but not sprinkled with sugar just is in the bagged cereal section it is called cinnamon trackers and its package is enviromentally friendly.

its about 3.50 a bag here in idaho

Quoting Harris06:

Well all love cereal! I will confess, my favorite is Cinnamon Toast Crunch. :) Always has been.

by Betty on Jun. 26, 2012 at 12:25 AM

same here

Quoting PoehlerBear1983:

My kids will eat any kind of cereal

family car

by on Jun. 26, 2012 at 2:04 PM
not really. I can't afford it.
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by on Jun. 27, 2012 at 11:34 PM

I've been trying to buy healthier cereals lately. Publix is great because they often have buy 1 get 1 free deals on cereal. Using coupons & utilizing their sales, I can get cereal really cheap!

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