Cereals And Juices May Not Be So Healthful
By Harriet Steinberg
Feb 11, 2007 - 4:57:00 PM

LOS ANGELES— A report that was released recently at the 2007 California Childhood Obesity Conference, held in Anaheim, stated that about half of the most aggressively marketed children’s food with pictures or names of fruit on the packages contained no fruit.

Jenna Skarzenski / Canyon News
Some of the products that had little fruit in it were cereals and yogurt. Parents buy cereals with the hope that it is nourishing for their children, especially when the box has a picture of raspberries and blueberries on it. Because many people have the tendency to trust the labels, they fail to look at the ingredients that manufacturers are required to list. Most ingredients listed on these products were not nutritious.

Leslie Mikkelson, a dietitian for Prevention Institute, pointed to a box of Berry Berry Kix at the conference. It showed a big spoonful of cereal topped with raspberries and blueberries.

“Parents do think cereals are a good way to start the day,” Mikkelson said. “They look at this one and think, it has the goodness of fruit, and all that’s in there is red dye and blue dye. “

Of the 37 products examined, 19 contained no fruit ingredients and six had only minimal amounts of fruit juice, and 10 contained actual whole fruits, which have less sugar and more fiber and nutrients than juice alone.

The Strategic Alliance for Health Food and Activity Environments, a statewide coalition of public health and nutrition organizations, are concerned about rising rates of obesity in children and adolescents, and a related surge in type 2 diabetes.

Based on the 2004 California Physical Fitness Test, which is administered in public schools to fifth, seventh, and ninth graders, one study showed that the proportion of overweight children climbed to 28.1 percent, up from 26.5 percent in 2001.

As a result of these increases, foods sold on school campuses are coming under closer scrutiny and regulations regarding how much sugar and trans fats are listed in the products.

Mikkelsen said that she was surprised to find out that popsicles and Skittles actually did contain a small amount of fruit juice.

Because one parent realized that what the label shows on the package is different from the actual ingredients that are in it, she tells the parents to bring water to their children’s practice sessions and games instead of juices.

The three-day California Childhood Obesity Conference drew more than 1,700 health advocates and officials.

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