The federal government just released new dietary guidelines suggesting more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and exercise for kids. And one U.S. food company is moving to do their part to lessen poor eating habits in children.
Kraft Foods announced plans to curb advertising of Oreos, regular Kool-Aid and other popular snack foods to children under 12 as part of an effort to encourage better eating habits.
The company, the biggest U.S. food manufacturer, also said Wednesday it would begin labeling some healthier products with a flag touting their benefits.
The new marketing program comes as food companies are facing rising criticism from some consumer groups and others that they're contributing to obesity in children.
"We're working on ways to encourage both adults and children to eat wisely by selecting more nutritionally balanced diets," Kraft senior vice-president Lance Friedmann said in a statement.
Two years ago, Kraft moved to reduce the fat content in 200 products, cap portions for single-serve packaged snacks and quit marketing snacks at school.
As part of the new marketing program, a "Sensible Solution" label will appear on products high in nutrients such as fiber or calcium or those with low fat, sugar or sodium.
"I think this move may cause some people to choose these foods over other similar foods," Crawley said. "I hope it will make them look more closely at the nutrition label, but that may be too optimistic. It mainly will influence those who are already wanting to improve their health."
Kraft said it would quit advertising products that don't qualify for the label on cartoon shows and other shows viewed primarily by children ages 6 to 11. Among those ads to be pulled are plugs for Oreo cookies, regular Kool-Aid and some Lunchables lunch combinations.
"My only concern about this announcement is that it is really hard to decide what is a 'better food,'" Crawley said. "At least they're considering the foods that meet the federal guidelines for low fat, low sugar and low sodium.
"The rest," she said, "will depend on their own integrity. At least it's a step in the right direction. It's more than most companies are doing."
Complete information on the plan is on the Kraft Web site (http://www.kraft.com/newsroom/01122005.html).
(Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)