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Study: Cereal ads fuel childhood obesity

October 26, 2009 12:53:58 AM PDT
A new report warns that most cereals advertised to kids are packed with sugar, which is fueling childhood obesity in the U.S.A study by the Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity blasts the nutritional value of some of the most advertised kids' cereals.

"If one looks at the rank order list of the worst nutrition cereals, it's stunning how the worst cereals are marketed so aggressively to children," said Kelly Brownell from Yale's Rudd Center.

Researchers found that the average American preschooler sees 642 cereal ads a year, and the vast majority of those ads are for sugared cereals.

The study's author says the heavy marketing campaigns are fueling America's growing childhood obesity epidemic.

Kelly Brownell, the study's author, says Yale's new research finds that kids will eat low-sugar cereals when offered.

"There are ways to train kids to eat healthier food. It's all about what they're exposed to," said Brownell.

The study says that the industry's efforts to police itself have failed. For example, under the industry's new standards many of the least nutritional cereals qualify as "better for you" foods.

Yet Elaine Kolish who oversees the industry's self-regulation initiative says that cereals like Froot Loops, Cap'n Crunch, and Cocoa Puffs, are cereals that have merit.

"I don't know how they came to their conclusion that they are the least nutritional products," said Kolish. "Because cereals for kids that are advertised in our program are low in calories, and they provide an important source of these nutrients for kids diets.

ABC News also reached out to manufacturers of these cereals. They maintain they are making their cereals more nutritious along with reducing their advertising to children.

The study finds that cereals marketed to kids have 85 percent more sugar, 60 percent more sodium and 65 percent less fiber than those aimed at adults.


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