The Government: Cereal Killers!

I opened up the business section of the paper Sunday and found this article: A battle builds over breakfast | StarTribune.com.

The story is about a government effort to kick Lucky the Leprechaun, Captain Crunch and other sugar cereal mascots to the curb unless cereal makers cut down even more on the sugar and salt in cereal.

The feds really think this will help solve the childhood obesity issue in America? Is sugar cereal really that big of a threat to our children that it’s in need of a government smack down?

Let’s get real.   General Mills and Kellogg’s aren’t forcing anyone to buy these products.  We, as consumers, need to take responsibility for our actions.  And the little kids, who these mascots seem to influence, aren’t the ones at the register paying for this stuff. It’s the parents.

“Hello mom and dad, if your kid wants Lucky Charms, guess what? You can say no!”

And it’s a great opportunity to show them the label, compare it to a healthier cereal and talk about why you are choosing another breakfast option.   Maybe your kids can earn their favorite sugary cereal as a special treat.  Or maybe this is good practice for parents to learn how to say no, because more serious issues are going to present themselves as their kids grow older.

I’ve taken many strolls down the cereal aisle with my kids and heard, “Please can I have Cookie Crisp, Lucky Charms, or Fruit Loops.”  Sometimes, I say yes. Sometimes, I say no.  I’m certainly not  cursing the mascot or the cute boxes for making my kids want this stuff.   I grew up with it too. Tony the Tiger and Frosted Flakes were a family favorite.   And what’s interesting is how many times they said sugar in this commercial.  It was actually a selling point!

Despite eating frosted flakes on too many occasions to count, I turned out okay.

I believe, cereal is the least of our worries.  And my favorite quote from the article is from the General Mills Spokesman, ” If the issue is obesity, we should be advertising more cereal to kids, not less”.

Is the government going to cancel Halloween next?  My kids come home with so much candy every year it’s a joke.  Or maybe they’ll target the Easter Bunny and eliminate the Peeps.

I am a parent, not a nutritionist, but I would venture to say there are fewer vitamins and minerals in candy than in cereal. And I would much rather have my kids snack on cereal than a candy bar.

Both General Mills and Kellogg’s have already made progress cutting sugar and salt in their products and this was through self-regulation.  It only benefits them in the health conscious society.  But it also has to be cost-effective.   Who wants to pay 5 dollars for a box of cereal?

The bigger issue, in my eyes is TV, computer and video games.  Kids aren’t playing outside as much.  They’re getting home from school and sitting their butts down in front of screen, which is a much more dangerous habit than a bowl of Cocoa Puffs a day.

Let’s work on creative ways to get kids moving.  And if these cereal characters and marketing campaigns are as influential as the government makes them out to be, partly to blame for making kids fat, then surely their influence could be used in other ways.

Instead of burying Count Chocula, Silly Rabbit and the rest of the cereal gang, let’s put them to work inspiring kids to get active.

Would love to hear what you think? No need to sugar coat your opinions here.

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