Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsor Kellogg’s must pay $4 million after falsely advertising the health benefits of Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal in 2008 and 2009.
“In 2008 and 2009, Kellogg’s claimed that Mini-Wheats could improve kids’ attentiveness, memory, and other cognitive functions — even though the sugary cereal doesn’t actually have any of those positive effects,” ThinkProgres reports.
This claim was one of Big Food’s most egregious, as it consisted of a study with two groups of children — one that skipped breakfast, and another that ate Frosted Mini Wheats. Misleading, much? The Frosted Mini-Wheats were a red herring.
And, as NPR reports:
“The problem, as journalist Michael Moss recounts in ‘Salt Sugar Fat’, was that the clinical study the ads referenced — a study paid for by Kellogg, by the way — didn’t actually support that claim. He writes:
“The truly remarkable aspect of the campaign is that the company study, even if taken at face value, did not come close to supporting the claim in its advertising. Half of the children who ate bowls of Frosted Minis showed no improvement at all on the tests they were given to measure their ability to remember, think, and reason, as compared with their ability before eating the cereal. Only one in seven kids got a boost of 18 percent or more.”
But according to Moss, many parents bought into those assertions anyway. “A resounding 51 percent of the adults surveyed were not just certain that the claim about attentiveness was true,” he writes, “they believed that it was true only for Frosted Mini-Wheats.”
Over the past few months, we have shared deceptive marketing lawsuits that have involved other Academy sponsors, like General Mills and PepsiCo. Has Academy leadership ever stopped to ask itself why it so staunchly defends companies that have come under fire time and time again for misleading consumers?
Perhaps that could be a good starting point for sponsorship criteria: “Do not accept money from companies that have a history of false advertising lawsuits filed against them”.