Paul Sakuma, Associated Press
Subsequent to a thoroughly developed and wide-ranging initiative to promote and produce healthier dietary choices within the food industry in 2006, several top foods companies are still marketing unhealthy cereal products for children, the Huffington Post reported.
Though healthy cereals with more whole grain and less sugar are being produced, cereal companies are more aggressively marketing their less healthy products, according to a "troubling" new report conducted at Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
"Food companies spent 34 percent more in 2011 — a total of $264 million — than in 2008 to promote cereal targeted to children. And none of its healthiest brands makes advertising to children a priority," Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center, told the Los Angeles Times.
"Cereals from major companies such as Post, Kellogg Co. and General Mills range from "very junky to very good,” Brownell said. If the companies “are going to be responsible citizens, they need to market their healthier cereals to children, and they are doing just the opposite.”
"One of the enduring debates surrounding the childhood obesity crisis is how much responsibility falls on parents’ shoulders and how much on the back of industry," Janice D'Arcy at the Washinton Post reported. "Child advocates often argue that what’s clear is that well-funded marketing campaigns for the unhealthiest food exacerbate the situation."
One proposed solution is industry self-regulation. "The industry can argue that it will police itself — that it will act in the best interests of children, and that government regulation will not be necessary," the Atlantic reported. "If the companies can develop ways of protecting children from poor nutrition influences and not require government involvement, everyone wins."
General Mills, Kellogg and Post have participated in the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), which is "designed to shift the mix of foods advertised to children under 12 to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles."
"The question is whether industry promises get fulfilled — and whether they are meaningful promises to begin with," Kelly Brownell and Jennifer Harris at the Atlantic reported. "There is no doubt that children need protection from the masterful and ubiquitous marketing by companies of products known to be unhealthy. Industry's promises to behave better have an empty ring when they continue the marketing of their least healthy products to children."
Websites such as CerealFacts.org can help parents be informed about which cereals are nutritious for their children.
Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News.
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