Survey: Pledges to advertise healthier cereals are working

by Eric Schroeder
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Young boy eating colorful cereal
Companies participating in the C.F.B.A.I. have reduced sugars, calories or sodium and increased the amount of whole grains, fiber, and/or vitamins and minerals in the ready-to-eat cereals they advertise to children over the past six years.

ARLINGTON, VA. — Companies participating in the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (C.F.B.A.I.) have reduced sugars, calories or sodium and increased the amount of whole grains, fiber, and/or vitamins and minerals in the ready-to-eat cereals they advertise to children over the past six years.

In its “2015 Cereal Snapshot,” the C.F.B.A.I. said a review of 30 R.-T.-E. cereals earlier this year found all contained no more than 10 grams of sugar, and half contained no more than 9 grams per serving. By comparison, only 6 contained no more than 9 grams per serving in 2009, and only 8 met the criteria in 2013.

The survey also found none of the 30 cereals contained more than 240 mg of sodium per serving, and 80% contained no more than 170 mg of sodium. All of the cereals contained no more than 130 calories, and most contained no more than 110 calories per serving, the C.F.B.A.I. said.

The whole grain and positive nutrient content also has increased in R.-T.-E. cereals, the C.F.B.A.I. found. Most of the participants’ cereals (77%) contained at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving, an amount the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans consider significant. One-third contained at least 12 grams per serving, and two-thirds listed whole grains as the first ingredient. All of the participants’ cereals were a “good” source (10% to 19% of the government-established Daily Value) of vitamin D, calcium and/or fiber, which are nutrients the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identify as “nutrients of concern.”

Elaine Kolish
Elaine Kolish, director of the C.F.B.A.I. and v.p. of the Council of Better Business Bureaus

“C.F.B.A.I.’s nutrition standards are driving numerous improvements to the nutritional content of cereals, and other foods, advertised to children,” said Elaine Kolish, director of the C.F.B.A.I. and vice-president of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Nearly half of the participants’ food advertisements on kids’ TV are for cereals, so this progress is significant in the fight against childhood obesity.”

The C.F.B.A.I. is a voluntary advertising self-regulation program that has set nutrition standards for foods its participants may advertise to children under age 12. Its 18 participating companies represent most of the child-directed food advertising on television.
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