Many children's cereals are healthier but chances are you are not aware of it. While cereals have become healthier, companies to spend their marketing dollars on less-healthy kid's cereal.
Big spending on advertising for kid's cereals has gone down, thanks to major cereal manufacturers such as Kellogg, Post and General Mills agreeing to reduce advertising unhealthy products to children in 2006. Since that time, marketing towards children has increased beginning in 2008 and not surprisingly, sugary cereals are getting the spotlight.
The findings come from the Cereal FACTS report published by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Initially, cereal companies had to reduce the marketing of unhealthy cereals to kids as part of the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative in 2006. The researchers collected nutritional data on 100 different brands of cereal and 300 total cereal varieties that were sold to children as well as adults. Advertising on television, social media and the internet were also taken into consideration.
The cereal companies did make improvements in nutritive value of kid's cereals. Researchers noted that between 2008 and 2011, 14 different cereals aimed at children had a 45 percent decrease in sodium, 32 percent decrease in sugar and a 23 percent increase in fiber. General Mills did the best among the cereal companies, improving nutrition in all of their cereals aimed at children.
The cereal companies also made great improvement on the internet side of things by shutting down websites which featured advergames, advertising under the guise of games. Post created a new advergame site for Pebbles while General Mills also created new sites for Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. General Mills decreased advertising on children's web sites by 43 percent while Kellogg doubled their advertising on children's web sites and also introduced mobile advergames.
On television, there was some good and bad news. Out of the 14 cereals, half of the cereals had a decrease in the number of children who viewed television ads while the other half saw gains in child viewership. The cereal brands reporting fewer views included Corn Pops and Honeycomb and cereal brands reporting an increase included Reese's Puffs, Froot Loops and Pebbles.
Despite some improvements, cereal companies are still marketing their sugary cereals and the report notes that in 2009 that the cereals with least nutritional value were the most advertised to children. The report also notes that children's cereal tend to have double the amount of sugar, 50 percent less fiber and 50 percent more sodium than adult options. While there are healthier options for children, cereal companies still have a lot of work to do conclude researchers.
The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity released their Cereal FACTS report on Friday.