Sunday, February 11, 2007

Part of the Solution

A major problem America faces today is obesity; approximately two thirds of Americans are obese. Numerous diseases have been linked to obesity, including diabetes and even Alzheimer's. The government has been less then helpful. Even the Food Pyramid produced by the USDA (and influenced by lobbyists), makes questionable suggestions. Between two and three servings of dairy products are suggested, despite the fact that dairy consumption among mammals (after nursing has completed) is generally limited to humans in Europe and North America. Websites like NotMilk are dedicated to showing medical problems associated with milk consumption and exposing some of the tactics of the dairy industry.

When an industry as historically "wholesome" as the dairy industry is part of the problem, who could be part of the solution?

In part, an industry paired with milk: cereal.

According to the Mythbusters, there's a myth that the cereals that kids like, usually ones with words like "chocolate" and "sugar" on the box have less nutrition than the box itself. Jamie and Adam failed to mention that humans don't digest cellulose very well, but that just makes my point stronger.

I purchased a few boxes of such cereals:

Both of these are marketed with the appeal of junk food to kids not in a position to make educated food choices. Nutritionally, though, they're surprisingly good, especially when compared to the store brand "Healthy Advantage," a product clearly targeted at these kids' more informed parents:

For the calorie counters out there, the "healthy" cereal might not be such a clear choice:

Just looking at calories, a key factor in obesity, 3/4 cup of both sugary cereals have 130 calories, compared to 2/3 cup of the healthy cereal having 230, approximately twice the calories per cup than the others.

While targeting kids through ads promising a tasty breakfast might create problems for their future diet, I applaud major cereal manufacturers for doing their part to fight obesity.

It's nice to see some responsibility, but the "healthy" cereal also reminds us to read the box before we buy.

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