Cereal Commercials Are Targeting Kids — And Upping Their Sugar Intake By A Lot

kids cereal commercials
kids cereal commercials

We all remember the good old days when we’d eat our favorite chemical-colored, super sugary cereal and it was pretty normal. We all just sort of snacked on the cereals from our favorite commercials without giving a second thought to calories or epic sugar intake (unless you’re like Kylie Jenner and cereal is a new concept for you).

Nowadays, with an abundance of health information available to the public, parents are thinking twice about letting their kids nosh on the stuff. Many parents don’t allow sugary cereals in the house, while others are serving up healthier alternatives — which, hey, if you can get your kid to fall in love with Kashi’s whole grain cereal, more power to you!

The only problem? Advertisers are creepily trying to influence young minds. And it’s working, because parents are buying their kids sugar-filled cereals, according to one recent Dartmouth-Hitchcock study.

The key players? Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Fruity Pebbles, Honey-Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Reese’s Puffs, and Trix. Each box contains nine to 12 grams of added sugar (aka more sugar than is naturally occurring in a food). In fact, 92 percent of cereals are loaded with added sugars.

Let’s put that into context. According to the Environmental Working Groups, kids across the United States are eating up to three times the amount of sugar they should be consuming daily. Amazingly, that’s about 18-22 teaspoons of sugar. Every single day. Would you put 22 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee? Didn’t think so.

Just look at this box of Captain Crunch. There’s no way this is good for anyone’s insides, right?

As revealed in the study, parents were asked about the shows their kids watched and which cereals their kids ate every eight weeks for a year. It was found that about 20 percent of children were exposed to ads for sugary cereals between shows, and that between 43.7 percent and 47.3 percent of children actually ate one of the cereals they saw on TV.

The kids who didn’t see the commercials ate significantly less sugary cereal.

Yes, that’s exactly how advertising works — but it seems pretty icky to create fun, colorful commercials that will only lead to childhood obesity and cardiovascular issues. This is particularly troublesome, considering that little kids watching these commercials are in their prime when it comes to forming lifelong eating habits.

But wait — don’t feel too guilty! These soulless advertisers are totally aware of what the study called “pester power” — a kid’s ability to beg their parents for something they saw on TV.

And with ads like this, it’s hard for even adults to resist:

Again, the issue isn’t one single bowl of cereal here and there, but the repeated exposure to commercials promoting unhealthy foods to young children.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “When kids grow up eating a lot of sweet foods, they tend to develop a preference for sweets. But if you give them a variety of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables early in life, they’ll develop a liking for them too.”

You can’t control everything a kid eats — they’re bound to get their hands on some sort of terrible treat — but limiting their exposure is a start. Stick with low-sugar fruits and whole grain cereals.

We see you, cereal commercials. We see you and know what you’re up to.

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