Cereal companies have improved the nutritional quality of most cereals marketed directly to children, but they also have increased advertising to children for many of their least nutritious products, according to a report by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.
In 2006, major cereal companies, such as General Mills, Kellogg, and Post, promised to enhance the nutritional quality of cereals advertised to children and strengthen their standards for child-directed advertising through the industry-led Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. The first Cereal FACTS study was released in 2009, and found that least healthy cereals were those most frequently and aggressively marketed directly to children as young as age 2.
The latest study shows that total media spending to promote child-targeted cereals increased by 34 percent from 2008 to 2011. In addition, spending in Spanish-language media more than doubled, and Black children’s total exposure to TV ads for child-targeted brands increased by 7.5 percent.
Researchers used the same methods to conduct the 2009 and 2012 studies. They examined the nutritional quality of more than 100 brands, and nearly 300 individual varieties of cereal marketed to children, families and adults. They also examined the scope of industry advertising on television, the Internet, and social media sites.
Key findings include:
Better for Kids
Worse for Kids
More of the Same
Support for the study was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Rudd Foundation.