Manufacturers bow to demand for healthier cereals, but increase marketing of sugary options to children

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 by: Raw Michelle
Tags: sugary cereals, breakfast, children

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(NaturalNews) In response to the growing backlash against their marketing sugary breakfast cereals to children, food companies in the United States seemed cooperative when they readily agreed to make these cereals healthier. Sugar levels, present in elevated levels in most processed breakfast cereals, were cut, and a growing number of popular brands are now producing whole grains versions of their product.

The negative side of sugar

The reasons for the concern are many. Life-long food seeking behaviors are created during childhood, and the earlier refined and sugary foods are introduced, the more likely it is that individuals will struggle with an array of diet-related problems, including a host of inflammatory and chronic illnesses, as well as struggling with their weight. In the United States, one third of children are overweight, and the numbers are not on the decline.

While these foods have a negative effect on the body at any time during the lifespan, the nervous system of children is still developing, and is particularly vulnerable to interference, much in the same way the organ systems of a fetus are more susceptible to damage from alcohol or tobacco exposure. Because the body is still growing into the environment, the exposure to sugar changes the body's perception of the environment in which it needs to adapt.

Two faces are better than one

However, researchers were shocked to discover that the seeming amenability of the biggest manufacturers - Kellogg's, General Mills and Post - may have been less than honest.

While the changes that have been made to some of the nutritional content of their cereals, the amount of funding being used to target the biggest nutritional offenders has increased significantly. Effectively, though healthier cereals now exist, children are less likely to consume them, because targeted advertising simply prompts them to seek out other, sugar-rich breakfast options.

The industry spent over $260 million on advertising children cereals in 2011, marking a significant 33 percent increase - roughly 10 percent per year. Colored and high sugar cereals, such as Fruity Pebbles and Reese's Puffs, remain the worst offenders. They offer little nutritional benefit, and are persistently marketed to children.

Promises from the hand that feeds

The Council of Better Business Bureaus' Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) has created a voluntary self-regulation program for food marketed to children. So far, these major manufacturers have been able to avoid government intervention by pledging to improve the nutrition of their products on their own. Despite the lack of obligation to adhere to these improvements, the upper limit of sugar content has been reduced from 16 to 10 grams of sugar per serving, indicating at least some modest improvement.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general.

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