Cereal FACTS in Brief

Cereal FACTS was developed in 2009 in an effort to highlight how food marketing affects the health of our most vulnerable citizens, our children. The Cereal FACTS 2012 Report quantifies changes in the nutritional quality of cereals and children’s exposure to cereal marketing after companies pledged to reduce marketing of unhealthy products to children.

Changes for the better

  • Overall nutritional quality improved for 13 of the 14 brands advertised to children. Of the 22 different varieties of these cereals available in both 2008 and 2011, 45% had less sodium, 32% had less sugar, and 23% had more fiber. General Mills improved the nutritional quality of all its child-targeted brands.
  • Millsberry.com and Postopia.com, the two most-visited children’s advergame sites, were discontinued. Due to the elimination of Millsberry.com, General Mills decreased banner advertising on children’s websites by 43%.

Changes for the worse

  • From 2008 to 2011, total media spending to promote child-targeted cereals increased by 34 percent.
  • Children viewed more TV ads for the remaining seven child-targeted brands, including Reese’s Puffs, Froot Loops, and Pebbles.

More of the same

  • Companies do offer more nutritious and lower-sugar cereals for children, like regular Cheerios and Frosted Mini-Wheats, but they are marketed to parents, not children.

Recommendations

Cereal companies, particularly General Mills, Kellogg, and Post should:

  • Significantly reduce the hundreds of advertisements for high sugar cereals that children see every year.
  • Use their substantial resources and creativity to find ways to encourage children to consume the healthful products in their portfolios.

To learn more about Cereal FACTS see the Report Summary, the cereal nutrition and marketing tools for consumers, and the FAQ section.

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