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Health & Parenting

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Kellogg Cuts Junk-Food Pitch to Kids

Food Company Will Reduce Marketing of Less Healthy Foods to Children Under 12
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

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 statement.

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.

Growing Trend

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 action.

"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."

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