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Children's health

Health Claims of Kid-Friendly Foods All Talk, Study Finds

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 by: Frank Mangano
Tags: children's health, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Toucan Sam, Sugar Bear, Count Chocula, Trix the Rabbit, Tony the Tiger, Sonny the Cuckoo -- what do these names have in common? If you think they're all characters on cereal boxes, of course you're right. If you said they're all cartoon characters, correct again.

But the main thing these characters have in common is that they were all created by food companies with the aim of appealing to a specific audience: children. And if you have ever bought one of these cereals to appease your sweet-toothed child, their tactics worked.

Don't feel bad for falling victim to their tactics, though. After all, show me someone who says they didn't like sugary cereals or cartoon characters when they were young, and I'll show you someone who is in denial.

Today, these characters still appear in the cereal aisle, but to their credit, companies like General Mills and Post have gotten the message from concerned parents and scaled back their advertising onslaught. For this, a polite round of applause is due.

But these and other companies that make "kid friendly" foods are now packaging the very same product
as they were previously, putting a bow on them through banner labels that tout the cereals' "nutritional value," hoping parents will take the bait. And once again, their tactics have worked.

From now on, don't be fooled by these headlines, because according to a study published in the journal Obesity Reviews, 89 percent of "child-friendly" foods have poor nutritional quality.

What defines poor nutritional quality? The researchers defined poor nutritional quality -- PNQ, for short - as foods that have more than 35 percent of its calories coming from fat, more than 35 percent added sugar, more than 230 mg of sodium per portion for snacks and more than 770 mg of sodium per portion for prepackaged meals. This is the criteria that the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) uses to assess food quality. These numbers are actually higher than they ought to be, as they represent a "compromise" that enables them to make foods that aren't exactly paragons of nutrition, but nevertheless meet the minimum standard of good nutrition (as defined by the CSPI). Sadly, only 11 percent of the 367 foods reviewed met the "good nutritional quality" standard.

But what's even sadder is the fact that these companies - knowing full well that they aren't meeting all of CSPI's guidelines - highlight the "good" parts of their product with bold typeface and flashy headlines. Almost 65 percent of the foods deemed poor in nutritional quality flashed healthy headlines about their product on the front of their box or packaging! So, essentially, companies are telling half-truths - promoting the aspects of their products that meet the guidelines, but covering up the rest, hoping you won't notice the required nutritional chart they're required to print with their product (and trust me, if they didn't have to, they wouldn't print these).

High sugar content was the top offender among the foods reviewed (70 percent), the next worst being high fat (23 percent) and high sodium (17 percent).

The point is, "kid-friendly" food companies are business-oriented. They're out to make a profit and will promote the aspect of their product that resonates most with consumers. Because parents are more in tune with health and what their kids eat than in the past, they will naturally promote the things in their product that look good, like "whole grain," "vitamins and minerals," "low fat," and "good source of calcium." Before buying, look beyond the headlines and read the nutritional chart and ingredients list (the ingredients listed first are the chief ingredients). More often than not - like articles in a tabloid - the content won't match the headline.



About the author

Frank Mangano is an American author, health advocate, researcher and entrepreneur in the field of alternative health. He is perhaps best known for his book "The Blood Pressure Miracle," which continues to be an Amazon best selling book. Additionally, he has published numerous reports and a considerable amount of articles pertaining to natural health.
Mangano is the publisher of Natural Health On The Web, which offers readers free and valuable information on alternative remedies. To learn more visit:

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