September 10th, 2013

The sour side of sugar cereals

By Pooja Salhotra
Yale Daily News

Despite pledges not to mislead children about the benefits of consuming their products, cereal companies market unhealthy foods by exploiting kids’ imaginations and limited cognitive abilities, according to a recent study by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. Published on July 26 in the online Journal of Health Communication, the study reveals that 91 percent of the high-sugar cereal ads viewed by children ascribe unrealistic powers to the products. Companies are feeding children messages that are deceptive and fantastical, leading children to believe that a cereal can improve their popularity or give them magical powers, study lead author and Rudd Center research associate Megan LoDolce said.

According to the Children’s Advertising Review Unit — a self-regulatory program aiming to promote responsible children’s advertising — “advertising should not stimulate children’s unreasonable expectations about product quality or performance.” Both General Mills, Inc and Kellogg Company are listed as CARU Supporters on the program’s website, and these two leading cereal companies are also participants of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, a program launched in 2006 to limit child-directed advertising of unhealthy foods.

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