Well, not that shocking.

The Food Advertising to Children and Teens Score (FACTS) was developed to scientifically measure food marketing to youth. While young people are exposed to marketing for a variety of food products, cereal was chosen as the first food category to be evaluated using FACTS because cereal companies target children more often than any other sector of the packaged food industry. The amount of money cereal companies spend on marketing to children exceeds $156 million per year on television alone.

Food marketing to children negatively influences children’s dietary intake and contributes to the childhood obesity epidemic.  The food industry’s efforts to self-regulate, like the Smart Choices program and the Council for Better Business Bureau’s “better-for-you” foods initiative, have been criticized for lenient nutrition standards and failure to fully implement stated goals. Cereal FACTS was designed to evaluate the impact of these food industry commitments and to highlight the changes that are necessary to help reduce obesity in children.

Cereal FACTS was developed based on the best available science, in consultation with a steering committee of experts in nutrition, marketing, and public health.

Key Findings

  • The average preschooler sees 642 cereal ads per year just on television, almost all for cereals with the worst nutrition ratings.
  • Compared to cereals marketed to adults, those marketed to children have 85% more sugar, 65% less fiber, and 60% more sodium.
  • Cereal companies together spend more than $156 million per year marketing to children.
  • Of the ten cereals with the worst overall impact (nutrition and marketing scores combined), six are products from General Mills, three are from Kellogg, and one is from Post.
  • The Millsberry.com website from General Mills averages 767,000 young visitors per month and Postopia.com averages 265,000 young visitors. The vast majority of pages on these sites feature cereals with poor nutrition ratings.
  • The cereal companies all have products that receive good nutrition scores, but few are marketed to children. Research shows that children will eat the healthier cereals.

And now, the fun stuff.

Top 10 Cereals by Nutrition Score
*Nutrition Score in parenthesis

  1. Post – Shredded Wheat – Original (82)
  2. Post – Shredded Wheat – Spoon Size Original (82)
  3. Barbara’s Bakery – Shredded Wheat (82)
  4. Kashi – Puffs – 7 Whole Grains Puffs (82)
  5. Post – Shredded Wheat – Spoon Size Wheat ‘n Bran (82)
  6. Kellogg – Mini-Wheats – Unfrosted/ Bite Size (82)
  7. Uncle Sam – Uncle Sam (78)
  8. General Mills – Fiber One – Original (bran) (78)
  9. Kashi – Shredded Wheat – Autumn Wheat (78)
  10. Nature’s Path – Synergy 8 Whole Grains (78)

Bottom 10 Cereals by Nutrition Score

  1. Quaker – Cap’n Crunch – w/ Crunch berries (30)
  2. Kellogg – Corn Pops (or Pops) – Chocolate Peanut Butter (30)
  3. Kellogg – Special K – Chocolatey Delight (32)
  4. Belgo & Bellas – YogActive Junior – Chocolatey Pillows (32)
  5. Kellogg – Special K – Blueberry (32)
  6. General Mills – Reese’s Puffs (34)
  7. Kellogg – Cocoa Krispies – Choconilla (34)
  8. Belgo & Bellas – YogActive – Yogurt and Strawberries (36)
  9. General Mills – Golden Grahams (36)
  10. General Mills – Cinnamon Toast Crunch – Regular (36)

Kellogg’s Special K?!  I thought people only bought Special K based on the assumption it was “healthy” for you. Who would have thought it is the 5th worst cereal in terms of nutrition?

And finally, the Top 10 Most Frequently Marketed Cereals to Children on TV

  1. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  2. Honey Nut Cheerios
  3. Lucky Charms
  4. Cocoa Puffs
  5. Trix
  6. Frosted Flakes
  7. Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles
  8. Reese’s Puffs
  9. Corn Pops
  10. Froot Loops

Source:  Cereal FACTS

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