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Originally published December 4 2009

Cereal ads found to promote childhood obesity

by Paul Louis, staff writer

(Natural News) According to a study by the Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy, marketing trumps nutrition when it comes to selling sugar-laden, empty calorie cereals to America's children.
Kelly Brownell, the author of the Yale study, charges that one of the culprits behind America's escalating childhood obesity epidemic is the high sugar content of these cereals.

The least nutritious cereals are the most frequently advertised to children. Ms. Brownell explains, "If one looks at the rank order list of the worst nutrition cereals, it's stunning how the worst cereals are marketed so aggressively to children."

The Yale study found that the average American preschool child sees 642 entertaining cereal ads a year. Advertising is tailored to fit its audience. The cereals with the most sugar and least nutrition are aimed at impressionable children, while more nutritious cereals with high fiber and low sugar content are aimed at adults.

On the other hand, cereal manufactures claim they are making their cereals more nutritious while reducing their advertising to children. However, Brownell's study reveals a different scenario. "Cereals marketed to kids have 85 percent more sugar, 60 percent more sodium and 65 percent less fiber than those aimed at adults."

Yet, cereal industry spokesperson Elaine Kolish, proclaims that "Froot Loops, Cap'n Crunch, and Cocoa Puffs, are cereals that have merit." Kolish continued, "I don't know how they came to their conclusion that they are the least nutritional products. Because cereals for kids that are advertised in our program are low in calories, and they provide an important source of these nutrients for kids' diets."

Brownell makes an important point: "There are ways to train kids to eat healthier food. It's all about what they're exposed to." In addition to obesity, researchers at Children's Hospital in Boston have discovered other health issues associated with diets high in sugar and starches.

High glycemic index (GI) diets cause blood sugar spikes commonly associated with diabetes. The researchers also determined high GI diets create more oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been implicated in a growing number of diseases and health issues.

To counter oxidative stress, the USDA recommends a whole food diet high in anti-oxidants.

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