Editor’s Note: Sugar & Spice

Manufacturers continue to modify ingredients for health in 2010.

General Mills, for instance, has committed to reducing the sugar in the cereal brands it advertises to children under the age of 12. The company’s decision to shrink the amount to single grams of sugar per serving is a welcome note; General Mills owns 10 cereal brands that target children: Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Cocoa Puffs Combos, Reese’s Puffs, Cookie Crisp, Cookie Crisp Sprinkles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Frosted Cheerios, Trix, and Honey Nut Cheerios (which already has sugar per serving at single-digit levels).

The company spent $212 million for the first nine months of the year on media, per the Nielsen Co. Last year, it spent $255 million. One step toward this change is to make sugar per serving to 11 grams instead of 12 grams. By the end of December, this reformulation for the General Mills’ 10 cereals advertised to children will be complete. General Mills expects the new versions of the cereals to be on shelves in the spring.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan applauded the cereal maker and encouraged others to follow: “General Mills — which has included whole grains in all its cereals — is taking another important step in the right direction by pledging to cut the sugar in the cereals it advertises to children. As sugary cereal is one of the top products marketed to children, we hope the company swiftly implements these changes and that Kellogg, Post Foods, and other competitors quickly follow General Mills’ lead.”

Children’s products aren’t the only areas in need of reformulation. Consider this: According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the average woman consumes 355 calories of sugar — think a milkshake or a large piece of cake — every day. The American Heart Association says women shouldn’t consume more than 100 calories of sugar, and men 150 calories of sugar, per day.

Retailers are working their own programs to get consumers healthier. Check out this week’s announcement from Sam’s Club to offer Nutrisystem in over 600 of its locations. Members may purchase the program through a convenient retail card system that begins with buying a card and then activating it. Nutrisystem has struck similar distribution deals with Wal-Mart, Costco and drugstore chain Walgreens. For the complete story click here.

All of these announcements tie into a new study released by the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Global Market Development Center’s (GMDC’s) Educational Foundation, which illustrates the need to understand the common and identifiable elements of consumers’ lifestyles. The 180-page study, titled “Consumer Shopping Habits for Wellness and Environmentally Conscious Lifestyles,” and presented last week in New York, examines today’s health-and-wellness (H&W) consumers — not an easy task, as no particular demographic defines them; they’re representative of all incomes, genders, educational backgrounds and ethnicities.

You can learn more about this report here and in the January/February issue of Progressive Grocer.

And that’s not all for the latest trends and news: In January, we’ll take a look at iodine and the American diet, as well as discover the latest H&W products on the horizon. Until then, have a wonderful holiday and a Healthy New Year!