Froot Loops is a Smart Choice!…?

Did you know that Froot Loops is a smart food choice?

The Smart Choices Program, which currently has 10 major food producers signed on including Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, ConAgra Foods, Unilever, General Mills, PepsiCo, and Tyson Foods, is a nutrition labeling program, “motivated by the need for a single, trusted and reliable front-of-pack nutrition labeling program that U.S. food manufacturers and retailers could voluntarily adopt to help guide consumers in making smarter food and beverage choices.”

According to the Smart Choices program, “The coalition worked very hard to develop nutrition criteria that met the highest of standards and a symbol consumers would appreciate and recognize when making choices at the point of purchase,” said Eileen T. Kennedy, DSc, RD, Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “By providing a single, simple communication on the front of the package, the Smart Choices Program can help alleviate confusion in the supermarket and help today’s busy shoppers make smarter choices for their families in store and at home.”

As reported by the New York Times, Dr. Kennedy defended Froot Loops as a Smart Choice product by stating, “You’re rushing around, you’re trying to think about healthy eating for your kids and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal,” Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. “So Froot Loops is a better choice.”

Smart Choices’ “nutrition” criteria includes factors such as: less than 35% of calories from fat, less than 25% of calories from added sugars, as well as requirements for saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and other markers.  It does not take into consideration food additives (known to cause hyperactivity in children), including artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, nor serving size, amount of protein, or other nutrition criteria.

Smart Choices states on their website that, “Pre-sweetened cereals have been demonstrated to be a good source of vitamins and minerals for children. Studies around the globe have consistently shown that kids who eat breakfast have more physical and mental energy than those who do not.”

My first question is what about eggs or homemade oatmeal as a “better choice” for a healthy breakfast.  By comparing, Froot Loops to no breakfast or the worst breakfast possible (a doughnut), you can make practically any claim you want.

This is not nutrition science, this is food industry propaganda.

When making food choices, it’s better to read the ingredient list and use your common sense than to trust food industry rhetoric telling you what you should eat and what is a “smart choice.”

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Hi, I’m Julie Matthews, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, Author, and Published Researcher. I teach parents and practitioners that children with autism, ADHD, and related disorders can improve and heal, and that there’s hope for their children. Then I educate and empower them to make strategic dietary changes that positively affect children’s health, which in turn helps their learning and behavior. With 17 years of experience and my unique range of knowledge, from nutrition research and clinical experience to cooking in the kitchen for my own family, I’ve created a much-needed community for parents and practitioners looking to help children with autism live happy, healthy lives. Join us.

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