On Thursday afternoon, while running down the aisles for a quick food shop, I asked my daughter to choose the breakfast cereals. She was taking ages so I doubled back to see what the problem was. She couldn’t decide between Cookie Crisp (40% sugar) or Frosted Flakes (41% sugar) or a new one from Kellogg’s called Krave (30% sugar)
The boxes told the whole story. They looked yummy, fun and sugary. I told her another story. I said no.
There was a stand-off in the cereal aisle at Waitrose. As I was paying, I felt I had the right to the final choice. I choose Rice Crispies (10% sugar), Shreddies (14%) and Weetabix(4%)
The new guidelines by the US government want to limit cereals to 8gm of added sugar. (Froot Loops contains 12 grams of sugar a serving. That translates to 48% sugar)
I sympathise with my daughter. Sweeter is yummier. There is something about sugar that calls its sweet siren song. Just hearing the word fudge or chocolate is enough to make me want it.
Offer me a piece of cake or a slice of bread, offer my daughter chocolate spread or unsweetened peanut butter, offer my son ice-cream or vegetable soup, and you know which way the cookie’s going to crumble.
We want sweet before we even see any advertising. But it’s not good for us.
And it’s not good for our children.
I’m not asking for Kellogg’s to stop making Krave. I just want them to stop advertising it to my children. (In the USA the food industry spent nearly $2.3 billion to advertise to children.)
The huge advertising budgets of the food industry normalises unhealthy eating.
There are no messages out there that say anything else in a language me and my daughter understand.
There’s no fun TV commercial that says water is a better choice.
There’s no exciting on-line game for toast and peanut-butter.
There’s no beautifully illustrated billboard for oatmeal porridge.
And without messages that tell the other side of the story, it feels like I'm fighting a losing battle for what my children eat for breakfast.
Is there anyone out there on my side?