Last night I turned on the TV and caught a blurb about an upcoming story on the CBS Evening News regarding sugared cereals being marketed to children. I’m not a regular news watcher at all, but I stayed tuned to watch this. 😉

I’m glad that I waited to watch the story because I learned that the Kellogg Company has agreed to stop marketing their products (by 2008) to children that contain in one serving the following:

  • More than 200 calories.
  • More than zero grams of trans fat and more than 2 grams of saturated fat.
  • More than 230 milligrams of sodium (except for Eggo frozen waffles…I wonder why that is?)
  • More than 12 grams of sugar (excluding sugar from fruit, dairy, and vegetables).

Kellogg has stated that they will be revamping their products in an attempt to make them “more nutritious”. Currently, 50% of their products fall into the above non-nutritive specifications.

Unfortunately, Kellogg isn’t doing this out of the goodness of their heart, but instead is responding to the threat of a lawsuit from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). You see, I’m not the only one out there that believes that sugar is a destructive, addictive, killer ingredient. No, these words weren’t used in the CBS evening news, but it’s definitely what I think! 😉

Part of the CSPI’s research involved watching 27½ hours of Saturday morning television (that’s a long morning!) in which they counted 54 commercials for Kellogg products during that time; 53 of them were for foods that meet the non-nutritive standards outlined above.

Even though this progress was created because of lawsuit threats, it is still inspirational and positive. It is much harder to get off of the addictive sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats the longer that you have been on them, and eating foods loaded with them when you are a child easily sets up the chemical cravings for them in your body.The obesity rate in children has risen at double the rate of that in adults and the fast and processed food industries actually focus 40% of their advertising towards children. You see, they view television with much less skepticism than adults, which makes them incredibly vulnerable to advertising.

The advertisers make certain that the average American child sees 10,000 food advertisements each year on television alone since children (in America) between the ages of five and fourteen spend $20 billion each year, and influence the spending of approximately $200-$500 billion annually (learn more in the book Food Fight: The Inside Story of the Food Industry, America’s Obesity Crisis, and What We Can Do About It).

To read all about this story, go to the CSPI’s website. Their news release contains more details than what was given on the CBS evening news, such as a couple more points that Kellogg agreed to:

  • They will not advertise any foods to children in schools and preschools that include kids under age 12.
  • Nor will they use branded toys in connection with foods that do not meet the nutrition standards.

I think that their agreement to stop using the branded toys is a very large (and positive!) step. Kids love the Disney movies and other cartoons and those popular characters create strong emotional responses in children that will draw them to the products they are displayed upon. I don’t have kids myself, but if you do, I’m sure you could tell many stories about your trips to the grocery store with your children!

I’m glad to hear that something is being done about marketing to children, as well as seeing some progress in the murky world of processed, sugared food; it’s a wonderful step in a positive direction, don’t you agree?