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General Mills' New PSAs: Providing a Public Service or Selling Sugary Cereals?

Posted Dec 19 2008 12:13am

General Mills recently unveiled a major, "nonbranded" TV "health advertising initiative," which is designed to reach 80 percent of our nation's kids to convince them they they should begin their days with breakfast.

But I can't help but wonder: Are these new, fast-paced, movie-trailer-like spots really just clever marketing gimmicks that barely hide the food giant's underlying goals -- which are to get more children to eat more and more of their sugar-loaded, nutritionally deficient cereals as Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs and Trix?

At first blush, General Mills' "Choose breakfast" message is a positive one. After all, a number of studies show that kids who eat nutritious breakfasts behave better, are more emotionally functional, get higher grades, eat less at lunch, and are less hyperactive.

In fact, the company's press release cited one such breakfast study from the University of Minnesota's Center for Applied Research and Education Achievement, which found that kids eating a nutritious breakfast got better test scores and 50 percent less discipline problems.

But, let's face it, folks, the types of morning foods that lead to the greatest benefits in behavior, concentration, and weight are nutritious, low-glycemic, fiber-rich, and contain no or little added sugars. Certainly a bowl or two of a sugary cereal, topped with a splash of milk, just doesn't cut it as the ideal way to begin the day.

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