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How to Keep Kids (and Your Brand) Healthy

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Pending legislation may restrict the types of food that can be marketed to children. Supporters of the proposed guidelines seek to alleviate an all-time high level of childhood obesity, but others fear the policy will eliminate too many jobs.

It may be awhile before a decision is reached due to the requirement of a cost-benefit analysis. The cause-effect relationship between advertising and childhood obesity is also being debated.

Nevertheless, children’s health is a prime concern. In the meantime, how can the CPG industry show support for minimizing the obesity crisis while upholding their brands?

Over the past few years, some manufacturers have voluntarily altered their product’s ingredient composition. For example, General Mills vowed to lower sugar levels in all cereals marketed to children, which now contain 10 grams of sugar or less per serving. The company also increased the use of whole grain in kid-friendly Big G cereals.

Other retailers and manufacturers are supporting healthier options in schools, as the nutrition of cafeteria food has long been scrutinized. Produce providers Dole, Chiquita, and Sun World have recently donated salad bars to schools to offer children fresher alternatives to standard cafeteria menus.

Whole Foods Markets (a sponsor of the Let’s Move Salad Bars 2 Schools initiative) and Publix have also made donations, in hopes that children’s act of choosing from an assortment will turn fruit and vegetable consumption into a habit.     

Dole’s Nutrition Institute even created a school curriculum, including lesson plans, music, games and activity books focused on forming healthy eating habits.

Other possible strategies manufacturers can employ to support children’s healthy eating may include:

  • Introducing healthier, kid-friendly brand extensions (Sara Lee disguised whole grains in whole wheat white bread)
  • Reducing size and calorie count of lunchbox-friendly packs (Nabisco introduced 100 calorie packs for portion control)
  • Increasing marketing efforts to promote existing healthy product lines to children (Last year, farmers borrowed the traditional junk food marketing approach to brand baby carrots as “the original orange doodle”)

What are some strategies your brand is using to combat childhood obesity?