SSo the other day I was in the cereal aisle, trying to decide whether to buy Boring Adult Cereal A. or Boring Adult Cereal B. There are many factors that go in to choosing a breakfast cereal, but as of late I’ve tended to buy things that fall into the “good for you” category, as opposed to my normal routine of throwing a box of Count Chocula in the cart and being done with it. As I scanned the aisle, I noticed a trend: all of the cereals for kids were being marketed as having “LESS SUGAR!” in an attempt to grab the attention of health-conscious parents. But according to an article published in this November's Consumer Reports, "23 out of the top 27 cereals marketed to children rated only Good to Fair nutrition." Uh-oh! Does this mean that a cereal can't be magically delicious AND generally nutritious?According to Consumer Reports, the answer is, well, maybe. Kix, Life, and two varieties of that preschool standby, Cheerios, in its original form and in Honey Nut flavor, made the "Very Good" cereal list. The other 23 cereals got a Consumer Reports smackdown: Kellogg's Honey Smacks were singled out for having "as least as much sugar" as a "glazed doughnut from Dunkin Donuts." What's up with that, Dig 'Em? How are you gonna lead our children astray like this? Shenanigans! Of course, we can't blame shady marketing practices all together for children's desire to eat sugary cereals. In 2007, Kellogg's announced that it would stop using its beloved cartoon spokespeople to push products to children unless the products in question fit specific nutritional guidelines. This, I believe, is why we no longer see commercials like the ones I loved growing up, the ones that had really stupid rock songs with lyrics that pretty much sounded like this: “Hey kids! Check it out! This is a bowl of sugar! This is a bowl of sugar! Sugar sugar sugar! OH YEAH! Tell your mom and dad to buy it! Or you will be a loser! SUGAR YEAH!” I know we are living in a country where childhood obesity has become a serious problem, so I completely understand the crackdown on advertising sugary sweets to kids. It’s fair enough. But sometimes I miss those stupid commercials, and I especially miss Rocky Road cereal, which essentially was a giant bowl of sugar with some extra sugar on the side and a touch of choco-sugar mixed in. Tremendous. So what's a parent to do? One option would to take the Consumer Reports recommendations to heart and switch over to the healthier alternatives. But another option, and perhaps a better one, would be to introduce the concept of moderation to children. The more we label foods as "good" and "bad", the more we set kids up to struggle with food issues and understanding how to recognize their nutritional needs. Is a cup a day of Cocoa Pebbles going to ruin someone's life? Probably not. But there has to be a balance somewhere. Maybe the best way to reinforce healthy eating habits with children is to encourage them to eat a variety of foods all along the spectrum, and to work that sugar high off through good old-fashioned exercise. For no kid should miss out on a nice spoonful of Frosted Flakes with cold, cold milk. For there are some things in life that are truly grrrrrreat, and cereal is one of them. Better Cereal Choices For Kids? [Consumer Reports]
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