Is That Right? Frosted Mini-Wheats Keep Kids "Full and Focused"
Ads for Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats promise that kids who tank up on these fiber-rich cereals will be "full and focused" in preparation for the school day.
Turns out that "full and focused" claim is what's left after the Federal Trade Commission in April made Kellogg stop saying a breakfast of Kellogg's Mini-Wheats was "clinically shown to improve kids' attentiveness by nearly 20%." Kellogg agreed to stop including that and other misleading statements in its ads, product packages and Web sites.
Even toned down, the current ads still seem fuzzy. Check the special Frosted Mini-Wheats Web site and you can see the "clinical study" backing the focus claim. Turns out they gathered 73 kids ages 8 to 12 "from various backgrounds" and fed them for breakfast either a "filling breakfast of Frosted Mini-Wheats" (with 4 ounces of 2-percent milk) -- or water. Kids who got to eat had "23 percent better quality of memory," according to a set of memory and cognition tests the kids took, compared to those who went without breakfast. There was no comparing kids who ate Mini-Wheats to kids who ate something else for breakfast. Nor does the Web site share any numbers explaining how that "23 percent better" was calculated. In the end, the Web site lists a handful of studies suggesting that breakfast helps kids perform better in school -- a matter that, as I wrote last year, hasn't been fully established.
The "full" claim derives from fiber's capacity to keep bellies feeling full, which seems okay but kind of disingenuous when the comparison is to kids who only had water. The Web site (okay, a talking Mini-Wheat character on the Web site) observes that keeping a child full helps keep the kid focused. I suppose a growling stomach is a distraction, but there's nothing saying Mini-Wheats are better than -- or even as good as -- other breakfasts at preventing morning hunger.
What food ads have struck you the wrong way lately? Let's have a look at them.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
May 29, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Family Health , Is That Right? , Nutrition and Fitness
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