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June 26, 2012

Cereal makers spend $156 million to get kids hooked on sugar

Do cereal companies value profits over children's health?

Whether it be the perpetual candy commercials during kids' programming, or ads upon ads of sugary drinks being advertised, children are extremely tempted by the foods they see on TV.

Among the biggest marketing campaigns towards children food products is cereal. Obviously not the bran, oat, or corn flakes varieties, but those pre-sweetened cereals like, Cocoa Puffs, Froot Loops, or Honey Smacks.

In a new report, the Yale Rudd Center For Food Policy & Obesity revealed that cereal companies marketed the least nutritious products to children while promoting healthier ones to parents.

The report indicates that out of 115 brands of cereals examined, 19 were advertised to children, compared to 27 that were marketed to parents as good food choices for their kids. The cereals that were promoted to children, had 85 percent more sugar, 65 percent less fiber, and 60 percent more sodium, according to the report.

Animated mascots

PhotoLike most TV ads made for children, cereal commercials contain bright images, quirky music and animated mascots. Although cereal companies are fully aware of the growing childhood obesity problem, they choose to support the bottom line and put dollars over health, the report charges.

General Mills, Kellogg's, and Post spend an average of $156 million per year in marketing children's cereals.

The report entitled "Cereal Facts, Food Advertising to Children and Teens Score 2012," also shows that children aged six to 11 watched a whopping 721 cereal commercials on television in 2008, and two to five year olds saw 642.

Cereal companies also do a large amount of website advertising, as they know today's children are more computer-savvy than adults.

The companies also know kids love video games, so many sites including AppleJacks.com, RessesPuffs.com, and CornPops.com all have interactive games on its site to not only attract younger consumers, but also to get them to return to the site for games, while being kept abreast of new product information. And it's working.

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