Labels on the front of foods marketed to children tout all sorts of nutritional benefits, from high protein and natural flavoring to heaps of fiber and vitamin C. But most of those claims are just feel-good marketing designed to mask the fact that our kids are being sold junk food. This is according to a study released yesterday by the Strategic Alliance, a California-based group of nutrition and exercise experts. It concludes that 84 percent of the nutritional claims made on the front of 58 "better for you" products were misleading; most of the products didn't even meet the basic nutrition standards set by the US Department of Agriculture and the National Academies of Science.
Among the worst offenders:
- Dora the Explorer Fruit Shapes calls itself "an excellent source of vitamin C, naturally flavored, 90 calories per pouch, and gluten free." But 58 percent of its calories come from sugar.
- The "Meal Facts" panel on Kid Cuisine All Star Chicken Breast Nuggets advertises "white meat chicken, excellent source of protein, no artificial colors or flavors." Yet 38 percent of its calories come from fat.
Apple Jacks touts its high fiber and low fat content, but derives 48% of its calories fromsugar—its primary ingredient.
"Without FDA regulation, instead of giving more information to parents struggling to make the best decisions for their kids, the system is deceiving them," said the study's author, nutritionist Juliet Sims. "The question is: Do food companies want to be on the side of parents and give them helpful information, or don’t they?"