June 22nd, 2012
As Health Pressure Rises, Kids Cereals Spending More on Ads
By EJ Schultz
Tony the Tiger, Trix Rabbit and Fred Flinstone are under fire again.
A leading anti-obesity research center puts those and other sugary-cereal icons in the cross hairs in a report that criticizes food companies for hiking marketing spending on kid-targeted brands, including aggressive ad investments in “some of their least-nutritious” cereals.
The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity cites “incremental” nutrition improvement in the cereals since it conducted its last study in 2009, such as reductions in sodium and sugar and increases in fiber. But “children still get one spoonful of sugar in every three spoonfuls of cereal,” report co-author Jennifer Harris said in a statement. “These products are not nutritious options that children should consume every day.”
Industry leaders countered that cereal makers have made steady and significant nutritional progress on brands advertised to children. While there is more work to be done, “changing kids’ taste preferences takes time,” said Elaine Kolish, director of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, or CFBAI, which oversees marketing regulations created by the industry.