Sugary Cereal - Detail - ©

Of Course Kids Prefer Stuff They’ve Seen Advertised!

In another attempt to break Dr. Obvious’ ‘D’Oh!’ Meter, researchers at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire have concluded that children prefer breakfast cereals they’ve seen advertised on television to other brands. Haven’t I heard this before?

Sugary Cereal - © eatthis.comBright colours team up with loads of Sugar to attract kids to unhealthy
Breakfast Cereals. And Cereal makers have known this for
as long as TV advertising has been around.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked into the ‘Recent Publications’ list at one of my clinical nutrition news sources this morning. It was as if I’d been transported back in time fifty years or so. The headline? Researchers say kids prefer Breakfast Cereals they’ve seen advertised on TV to other brands.

For the love of all that’s healthy and nutritious! Cereal makers have known, since they first targeted kids with ads on the Saturday morning cartoons, that the little darlings will get all worked up about products they see advertised and bug their parents to buy them until Mom and Dad finally give in, or go nuts. There’s even a name for this behaviour: Pester Power.

And for almost as long, everybody has known those Cereals are not so healthy. In fact, decades ago alarmed nutrition experts warned that those ‘Cereals’ are generally more Sugar than Grain. Not long ago – just a decade or so – the worst of the Sugary Cereals began to fade from favour when Late Boomers and Gen-X parents realized what the stuff was doing to their kids. But now, advertisers are ramping up their advertising and promotion efforts in an attempt to recycle those Sugary brands. And the worst offenders, dietarily, contain more than 50 percent Sugar!

Now, amid the hew and cry over the Obesity Epidemic, and Childhood Obesity in particular, the latest generation of earnest young scientists has reinvented the wheel, and sent up a flare about the link between TV advertising and the preference among kids for unhealthy foods they’ve seen advertised.

Where were these ‘researchers’ over the past decade as government officials and medical professionals alike pushed for controls or outright bans on advertising for unhealthy foods targeted at children? Where were they when municipalities and higher levels of government started imposing ‘Sugar taxes’ on unhealthy foods in an attempt to keep kids from getting fat? There’s a name for this blissful ignorance caused by the social isolation of pure academia: Ivory Tower Syndrome.

Excuse me, now, if you will. I have to give Dr. Obvious oxygen…

~ Maggie J.