Kids’ Cereals Are Healthier, But Companies Are Marketing The Hell Out Of That Sugary Crap

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cerealGood news you mommies who wince at those Lucky Charms purchases. Children’s cereals are no longer becoming an automatic bowl full of cavities — at least not all of them. Kellogg Co, General Mills Inc, and Post Holdings Inc, are modifying their recipes to include more whole wheat and cut that astronomical sugar intake. But don’t pat those companies on the back too hard. Although steps are being taken to alter some cereals, said food conglomerates are still pushing the same sugary brands on your kid at full throttle.

Reuters reports that such modern childhood staples as Fruit Loops, Fruity Pebbles, and Reese’s Puffs not surprisingly have the lowest nutritional value. Yet, the “aggressive marketing” of these cereals to kids vastly outweighs the commercial outreach of Regular Cheerios and Frosted Mini-Wheats — which have much higher nutrition. And don’t think that’s any accident:

Spending to promote child-targeted cereals totaled $264 million in 2011, up 33 percent from 2008, according to the study, which followed up a similar report from three years ago.

Elaine Kolish, director of the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), says that this somewhat divided attempt to both make cereals healthier while brainwashing kids to buy the other stuff is a glass “half-full and rising.” She also tips parents off to the truly shocking observation that generally, kids aren’t going to be gunning it for your Heart to Heart:

“Changing kids’ taste preferences takes time and effort. The notion that kids could stop eating Fruit Loops and go and have Grape-Nuts, with all due respect to Grape-Nuts, to me is unrealistic and not practical,” Kolish said, referring to the whole-grain cereal Post cereal promoted by the late Euell Gibbons, who advocated natural diets in the 1960s.

Nevertheless, between children’s seemingly natural affinity for all things sugary and the unchecked advertising free for all in children’s media and entertainment, parents are up against way more than just instilling healthy habits. The ads between your son or daughter’s favorite show can put a specific taste in his or her mouth long before you can even pour that soy milk, once again posing why we allow companies to market so flagrantly to our children.

(photo: LittleMiss/ Shutterstock)