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In response to the recently issued 2012 Cereal Facts Report from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale in New Haven, Conn., which found “limited progress in the nutrition quality and marketing of children’s cereals,” the Grocery Marketing Association (GMA) was quick to issue a defense of the oft-maligned food.
“Today’s ready-to-eat cereals are more nutritious than ever and are some of the healthiest breakfast options available to consumers,” the Washington, D.C.-based trade association said. “Cereals are typically nutrient-dense, low-fat and serve as an important source of whole grains, and deliver nutrition in relatively few calories. In fact, with milk, cereal is the leading source of 10 key nutrients in the diets of American children. Cereal is also a vehicle for milk consumption: more than 40 percent of milk consumed by children is consumed with cereal. According to research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, regular cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights.”
GMA also noted that under the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), the top U.S. cereal companies have voluntarily adopted advertising criteria requiring that all of their ads included in children’s programming promote healthier diet choices and more nutritious products. Since the initiative rolled out, cereal manufacturers have reformulated products to reduce sugars, fats and sodium and increase positive nutrients, added the association, pointing out that as of 2007, sugar reductions in cereals have ranged from 10 percent to 25 percent, and currently 86 percent of cereals marketed to kids contain no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving. “It’s clear that cereal can play an important role in a balanced, healthy diet,” concluded GMA.
Additional actions that food and beverage companies have taken to address better health and the obesity epidemic, according to the organization, include the introduction of more than 20,000 new products with fewer calories; reduced fat, sodium and sugar; and more whole grains since 2002, a pledge to remove 1.5 trillion calories from the food supply by 2015; and the launch of voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labeling system Facts Up Front.