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Nutritionists Question Self-Regulation For Cereal Companies

Source: Hannah Nicole via flickr

Since the beginning of packaged and marketed cereals, there’s been debate about the health (or lack thereof) benefits of the breakfast staple – especially in regards to those brands primarily targeted at children.  Nutritionists bemoan the high amounts of sugar, while the manufacturers say that without a sweet taste, the kids won’t eat it;  Those food companies suggest that it’s better for kids to consume the cereal – even if it’s dosed with large levels of sugar, than for them not to eat breakfast at all.

At the present time, there is a movement brewing in the cereal industry that they should be able to self-regulate the sugar and additive content of their product.  Critics are quick to disagree.  They cite research studies that children like the “sweetness” of the product, but would eat just as much of an unsweetened cereal if they were to have natural choices like fruits available to add flavor.

One solution the industry itself proposes is 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. An example is the participation of General Mills, Kellogg, and Post 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 debate is far from over, and the outcomes could have far-reaching effects on the health of Americans for generations to come.


Health – Kelly Brownell & Jennifer Harris – Sugar Rush: Why We Can’t Trust Cereal Companies to Self-Regulate – The Atlantic.

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