COMMENTS: Snap Crackle Pop

All three networks assigned a reporter to Kellogg's decision to revamp the way it sells high-sugar, high-salt food to children. The firm "is banking that good will from grateful parents will make up for the loss of one of its most effective marketing ploys," as CBS' Nancy Cordes put it. Specifically the cereal maker promised either to reformulate its non-nutritious brands--such as Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks, Eggos, Pop Tarts, Corn Puffs, Honey Smacks, Cocoa Krispies--or, if improvement does fail, to pull their advertising during Saturday morning children's television. As Dan Harris (subscription required) put it on ABC's A Closer Look, "Toucan Sam may go the way of the dodo."

The background to Kellogg's decision was the threat of lawsuits for promoting a diet that is harmful to children. NBC's Janet Shamlian raised our eyebrows at when she outlined the extent of the problem: "obesity rates" now exceed 15% of the child population of the United States. That number seems far too high. The Centers for Disease Control (text link) use the term "obese" for the minority of overweight adults whose health is at extreme risk from their size. Most overweight people are not obese and the CDC do not even use obese as a classification for children. Of course, children should eat nutritious food, but Shamlian's "obesity" terminology is sloppy at best, misleadingly alarmist at worst.


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