Healthier cereals but unhealthier ads

More ads for the unhealthiest products for kids

According to a report, U.S. food companies are making healthier breakfast cereals for children, but are simultaneously aiming more ads for their unhealthiest products at kids.

The “Cereal Facts” study from Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity offers an outside assessment of the industry’s actions in the United States, where nearly a third of children are overweight or obese.

“It’s not enough and the companies are still using all their marketing muscle to push their worst cereals on children,” Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Centersaid.

Aggressive Ads

Spending to promote child-targeted cereals was $264 million in 2011, an increase of more than 30 percent from 2008, according to the Yale study, which follows a similar report three years ago.

The study highlighted aggressive marketing of cereals like General Mills Inc’s Reese’s Puffs, Kellogg Co’s Froot Loops and Post Holdings Inc’s Pebbles to children – brands which rank among the lowest for nutrition and the highest for added sugar, according to researchers.

In the three years through 2011, children’s’ exposure to television ads for Froot Loops increased 79 percent; their exposure to ads for Reese’s Puffs shot 55 percent and that for Pebbles was up 25 percent.

While regular Cheerios and Frosted Mini-Wheats have some of the highest nutrition scores, ads for those products were more likely to be targeted at adults, the report said.

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