Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

The Anatomy of an Industry-funded Nutrition Study

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The Company: Kelloggs

Date: Sometime in 2008 as a TV commercial. See it for yourself HERE.

The Claim: ” Eating Frosted Mini Wheat Cereal Makes Your Child Smarter.”

The Scenario: A teacher in a classroom asks students, “Where were we?” ( In my opinion, apparently, she had not eaten Frosted Mini Wheats for breakfast).  Most of the students paid no attention to her request. But one boy enthusiastically offered the answer waving his hand and proclaimed, “we were on the third paragraph of page 57 and you were explaining that the stone structures made by ancient Romans were called aqueducts”….

A voice over: “A clinical study showed kids that a filling breakfast of Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal improved their attentiveness by nearly 20 percent. Keep ’em full. Keeps ’em focused.”

The Evidence? The claim was false. The reality? Kelloggs had commissioned and paid for the study.  The actual results found that  half of the children in the study who consumed Frosted Mini-Wheats showed no improvements at all on all the tests they were given to measure memory or reasoning when compared to their test results before eating the same cereal. Only 1 in 9 improved by 20% or more.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cited Kelloggs for making false claims. In the end, Kelloggs paid $2.8 million in a separate class action suit to consumers in refunds and donated $5 million of its products to charities.  Source: Michael Moss, “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.” pages 91-92.



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