Kellogg Cuts Junk-Food Pitch to Kids
Food Company Will Reduce Marketing of Less Healthy Foods to Children Under 12
WebMD News Archive
June 14, 2007 -- Kellogg announced Thursday it would scale back its
marketing of unhealthy products to young children, a move observers praised as
a step toward shifting American children toward healthier diets.
The company, the world's largest breakfast cereal manufacturer, said it
would cut the sugar, fat, and sodium content of food it markets to children
under 12 years of age. Foods that don't meet the new standards will no longer
be advertised to kids on television, radio, the Internet, or in print.
The company also said it would abandon lucrative product placements and
school promotions for less healthy foods.
"We're taking these steps to address increasing concerns about marketing
to children and further strengthen our commitment to responsible
marketing," David Mackay, the company's president and CEO, says in a
The move -- expected to be phased in by the end of 2008 -- affects up to
half of the products the company markets to children worldwide, including Pop
Tarts pastries and Froot Loops and Apple Jacks cereals.
The company said the food it markets to children under 12 would now contain
no more than 12 grams of sugar per serving along with a maximum of 2 grams of
saturated fat and 230 milligrams of sodium. A new nutrition information panel
will be placed on the front of cereal packages.
The decision makes Kellogg the latest food manufacturer to agree to
marketing curbs and improved nutrition standards for some of its products.
Companies have been under increasing pressure to alter nutrition standards and
marketing practices in an effort to curb childhood obesity.
General Mills announced a plan in 2004 to shift its entire cereal line to
whole-grain content. More recently, 10 food manufacturers agreed to pursue new
guidelines scaling back on junk food advertising aimed at children.
Kellogg was also facing a lawsuit in Massachusetts brought by a group of
advocacy organizations and individuals alleging that its marketing practices
were illegal under the state's laws.
The plaintiffs said they would drop the lawsuit as a result of the company's
"Things are moving slowly in the right direction," says Michael
Jacobson, MD, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public
Interest, one of the plaintiffs in the suit. He tells WebMD that
Kellogg's announcement is "substantial."
Children aged 7 to 12 see an average of 21 food advertisements per day, says
Vicki Rideout, who studies children's media exposure for the Henry J. Kaiser
Family Foundation. Over the course of a year the exposure amounts to 7,600 ads,
many for sugared cereals, she says.
Rideout calls Kellogg's announcement a "milestone" that would likely
pressure other food companies to follow with similar actions. But she warns
that it was unlikely to significantly alter children's exposure to advertising
or their consumption of unhealthy food.