Sugar Cops Sour on Cereal

For the amount of flack that “Big Food” takes from finger-wagging activists, here’s an interesting statistic: General Mills has increased its spending on health and wellness by 75%, The Wall Street Journal reports. One result is a cereal that satisfies customers’ demands for a reduced-sugar but tasty breakfast.

Unfortunately (but not unsurprisingly), that’s not enough for the anti-sugar fundamentalists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI wonders why kids can’t just eat cereals meant for full-grown adults.

But how much further can General Mills go? The company has been so successful in cutting sugar that they don’t think they can cut more without compromising the texture of the cereal, reports the Journal. Likewise, the food producer knows what minimum level of sweetness kids will tolerate; not sweet enough, and breakfast will be in the garbage can instead of a kid’s stomach.

The problem with CSPI’s reasoning is that kids and adults have different wants and needs in a breakfast cereal. That’s why kids prefer sweetened cereal and adults enjoy “heart-healthy” cereal.

Of course, if CSPI gets its way, there may not be much advertising of kids’ cereal left. Yes, that’s right—CSPI wants strict national regulations on food marketing. (Ever hear of the First Amendment, guys?)

When the federal government’s Interagency Working Group released its proposed “voluntary guidelines” on food advertising to minors, the regulations were (surprise, surprise) found to be “too broad” by two U.S. Representatives. It comes as no shock, then, that the latest word is that the federal agencies behind the proposal were forced to send a letter to Congress that said that the Working Group “anticipates making major changes to both the marketing and nutrition principles.”

Even if the eagerly sought ban were enacted, draconian restrictions on advertising won’t help. Just as there’s no evidence that the CSPI-favored Happy Meal toy ban will work, there’s no reason we should expect overreaching federal regulations to change kids’ taste buds.

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