New Hope 360 Blog

Why marketers should be banned from cereal boxes

Should cereal companies be allowed to give the impression that their "food" is healthier just because they reduced sugar or eliminated high fructose corn syrup?

Every once in a while I venture out of my natural-foods-store isolation into the "real world" where things like Cheetos and Pop Tarts are sold. I used to frequent these stores up until a few years ago (when I wasn't as wise about nutrition), so you'd think I'd be prepared for the food products encountered in my local Target.

But then I see things like this:

Trix cereal

And this:

Raisin Bran

"Hooray!" you may be thinking. "Conventional food companies are getting a clue and removing high fructose corn syrup, adding whole grains and saying things such as 'lightly sweetened' so they must have consumers' best interests in mind."

This is not what I am thinking. I am thinking, "Great, now people will think this stuff is healthy for them."

My coworker Carlotta Mast said it best last week in her blog about health washing. Big food companies are reducing sugar, but not completely because then they'd lose customers. So instead of making a truly better-for-you cereal, they're content to keep making their food "healthier." (Can Trix really be called food when its second ingredient is still sugar and it contains Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1 and artificial flavor?)

Breakfast is "the most important meal of the day" and the truth is more kids in this country are starting their day with Trix than a banana. It's going to take more than a glitzy label like "lightly sweetened" or "contains no high fructose corn syrup" to turn the tide on health in our country, let alone the world.

To get there, I don't think companies should be allowed to parade illusions on their unhealthy foods. How about you?

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