The Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) recently completed their "2015 Cereal Snapshot," examining whether and how cereal makers are meeting voluntary nutrition guidelines for cereals advertised to children under age 12.
They reviewed 30 cereals and found the following:
- None contained more than 10 grams of sugar per serving
- None of the cereals contained more than 240 mg of sodium per serving
- None contained more than 130 calories per serving
- Whole grain content has increased, with most containing at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving
- Cereals were a "good" source of Vit D, calcium and/or fiber
Elaine Kolish, Director of CFBAI, had this to say: “C.F.B.A.I.’s nutrition standards are driving numerous improvements to the nutritional content of cereals, and other foods, advertised to children,” said Elaine Kolish, director of the C.F.B.A.I. 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.”
These voluntary standards have certainly led to improvements but there is a long way to go. Too few contain "good" sources of Vit D, calcium or fiber, the sugar standard (10 g per serving) is still a bit high. And of course, not all cereal companies are included in CFBAI and even those that are, only focus on kids under 12 (rather than 18). There needs to be more digital standards, including the use of cartoon and other characters. Food marketing to kids could certainly benefit from federal oversight but in lieu of any FTC action, the CFBAI has made steps to move (at least participating companies) in the right direction.