On Wednesday night I went to a meeting of The parliamentary food and health forum which is a cross party group. The subject was breakfast clubs and a speaker from Kelloggs was invited to give a presentation about the breakfast clubs they run. It was a great opportunity to question Kelloggs directly about the appalling "ever thought of coco pops after school?" ads they are running at key sites near schools.
I object to the adverts because:
1) Coco pops are a high sugar food - 34% sugar. Given most children consume more than enough sugar a day it seems irresponsible to encourage children to eat a second helping after school.
2) Dressing the coco pops monkey in school uniform is seen by many as a sublimal attempt to associate a high sugar product with the move to make schools healthier. Ironic when you consider coco pops does not meet the nutritional standards for schools so is not allowed to be served in school breakfast clubs
3)Kelloggs are a Change4Life partner and claim to be playing a role in improving children's health. This advert which encourages children to eat another bowl of the sugary cereal makes a nonsense of the change4life goal of encouraging sugar swaps ( ie substituting a high fat or sugar product such as confectionery for a piece of fruit or wholemeal toast.
When I put these points to the Kelloggs nutritionist she accepted that the campaign had been a mistake and that the ads were now taken down. She did not accept my point about the irresponsibility of encouraging children to ask for extra sugar and trotted out the weary claim that a portion of coco pops contains no more sugar than 2 slices of toast and jam. However I was able to explain how inaccurate portion sizes are as in my own personal experience I have measured portions that children pour out and they are at least 2 or 3 times greater than the recommended 30g (which barely covers the bttom of a small cereal bowl)
Although the bus stop ads appear to have been taken down in Merton I have still seen a large poster in Streatham.
So what can we do?
1) Email Kelloggs to tell them that this campaign must never be repeated
2) If you spot an ad, please leave me a comment with its location
3) Compose your own coco pops slogan! Click here.
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