June 22, 2012
Cereal companies have improved the nutritional quality of most cereals marketed directly to children, but increased advertising to children for many of their least nutritious products, according to a three-year update on the Rudd Center’s Cereal FACTS Report.
Cereal FACTS was originally launched in 2009 and found that the least healthy breakfast cereals were those most frequently and aggressively marketed directly to children as young as age 2. Major companies such as General Mills, Kellogg, and Post belong to the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), sponsored by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, and have promised to improve the nutritional quality of their children’s cereals. The CFBAI reports that participating companies also have improved their standards for child-directed advertising.
Using the same methods as the original Cereal FACTS, researchers found that the children’s cereal landscape has not improved since then. While companies improved the nutritional quality of most cereals marketed to children, the authors report that total media spending to promote child-targeted cereals has increased by 34 percent from 2008 to 2011. According to the report, cereal companies continue to push their least nutritious products directly to children and children continue to see more advertising for cereals than for any other category of packaged food or beverage.