Statement of Elaine D. Kolish, Director, Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and Vice President, Council of Better Business Bureaus
Arlington, VA – June 22, 2012 – We’re pleased that the Rudd Center has acknowledged the important nutritional improvements that the participants in BBB’s Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) have made in kids’ cereals since 2009. While there is more to be done, as parents know, changing kids’ taste preferences takes time and effort.
Before CFBAI was founded, some cereals had 15 or 16 grams of sugar; now
most have no more than 10 grams per serving, and none have more than 12 grams. However, comparing cereals to cookies because of their sugar content, as the Rudd Center does, is silly. Sugar content needs to be evaluated in context, and children’s cereals should be compared to other breakfast options. While cookies can have a place in a healthy diet as a treat eaten in moderation, the consumption of breakfast cereals is linked to healthier body weights and more nutritionally complete diets.
Compared to cookies, the cereals advertised to children have fewer calories and considerably less fat. Unlike cookies, they all contain a rich array of vitamins and minerals and many have at least 8 grams of whole grains. Even compared to other likely breakfast options such as muffins, donuts, and pancakes and waffles served with syrup, these cereals have fewer calories, less sugar, less fat, and less sodium.
The nutritional profile of the five brands the Rudd Center says represent about half the ads kids see are examples of products rich in whole grains
and low in nutrients to limit.
- Calories: all contain no more 130 calories
- Saturated fat: all contain no more than 0.5 grams
- Sodium: all contain no more than 180 mg
- Sugars: 4 out of 5 have no more than 10 grams per serving (2 have 9 grams), and one has 12 grams
- Whole grains: All have 10-14 grams per serving. For 4 out of 5, there are more whole grains than any other ingredient, and they are the first ingredient listed
- Vitamin and minerals: All are at least a “good” source (10-19% Daily Value) of many essential nutrients, including Vitamin D, a shortfall in children’s diets
In 2012 many cereals that CFBAI participants advertise to children are even better than they were in 2011, when the Rudd Center conducted its analysis, and more changes
are underway. CFBAI’s adoption of new uniform nutrition criteria, which go into effect in December 2013, will lead to further improvements.
NOTE to media: Elaine Kolish is available for media interviews on this topic.
For 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2011, consumers turned to BBB more than 100 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at www.bbb.org.
The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 116 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.
About the CFBAI.
The CFBAI was launched in November 2006 with the goal of shifting the mix of ads to children to include healthier products ─ those with fewer calories, less sodium, sugar and fats, and more nutrient dense. The CFBAI’s participants agree to use science-based nutrition standards to govern their advertising primarily directed to children under 12 (“child-directed advertising”) or not to engage in such advertising. The participants represent the substantial majority of child-directed food advertising on TV. Our focus is on child-directed advertising, not all ads children may see, such as ads on prime time dramas or reality shows, because child-directed ads in children’s programming are designed to be appealing to and persuasive to them. More information about CFBAI is available at www.bbb.org/kids_food