Cereals Advertised to Children Are Improving Under Self-Regulation

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BBB Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative "Cereal Snapshot" Shows Companies' Pledges to Advertise Foods Are Working

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CFBAI’s nutrition standards are driving numerous improvements to the nutritional content of cereals, and other foods, advertised to children

Cereals advertised to children continue to improve nutritionally, according to the Better Business Bureaus’ Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI). CFBAI 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.

“CFBAI’s nutrition standards are driving numerous improvements to the nutritional content of cereals, and other foods, advertised to children,” said Elaine Kolish, director of CFBAI 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.”

Under self-regulation, CFBAI participants have reduced sugars, calories, and/or sodium, and increased the amount of whole grains, fiber, and/or vitamins and minerals in the cereals they advertise to children. The sugar content of cereals overall has gone down. All of the participants’ regular one-ounce serving size cereals meet CFBAI’s limit of 10 grams per serving and, notably, half now contain nine grams or less. Before CFBAI started, some cereals may have contained as much as 15 grams of sugars per serving.

The whole grain and positive nutrient content also has increased. Most of the participants’ cereals (77%) contain at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving, an amount the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans consider significant. One-third contain at least 12 grams per serving, and two-thirds list whole grains as the first ingredient. All of the participants’ cereals are a “good” source (10-19% of the government-established Daily Value) of vitamin D, calcium, and/or fiber, which are nutrients the 2010 DGA identify as “nutrients of concern.”

CFBAI’s “2015 Cereal Snapshot” is available online.

Since 2007, CFBAI has been changing the children’s food advertising landscape to include healthier products. CFBAI’s participants commit to use science-based uniform nutrition criteria to govern what foods they advertise directly to children under 12 or to not engage in such advertising. CFBAI’s 18 participants, representing a substantial majority of child-directed food advertising on TV, are: American Licorice Company; Burger King Corp.; Campbell Soup Company; The Coca-Cola Company; ConAgra Foods, Inc.; The Dannon Company; Ferrero USA; General Mills Inc.; The Hershey Company; Kellogg Company; Kraft Foods Group Inc.; Mars, Incorporated; McDonald’s USA, LLC; Mondelēz Global LLC; Nestlé USA; PepsiCo, Inc.; Post Foods, LLC; and Unilever United States. For more information about the CFBAI, visit bbb.org/kids_food.

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Katherine Hutt at 703-247-9345 or khutt(at)council.bbb.org

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Katherine Hutt
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