Why Buyers Should Beware of Food Marketing Claims

If you are watching your weight, which cereal do you think best help you achieve your goal?

Kellogg’s Special K


Kellogg’s Corn Flakes

This question came up recently when my mom was in town visiting. She is on a weight loss diet and said, “I eat Corn Flakes for breakfast but I try to eat Special K whenever I can.”

And my response was: “Why? One is not different than the other.”

And even my husband piped in to say, “Of course there is a difference. Special K is better,” a comment to which my Mom wholeheartedly agreed.

So if I asked you the same question, what would your answer be?

If you have seen the myriad of Special K TV commercials, you would assume this cereal has some magic weight loss formula. In fact, this commercial challenges you to drop jean size in two weeks.

Now that’s a marketing claim if I ever heard one!

But buyers beware. Marketing can be louder than pounds at times.

So back to the original question:

Special K has 120 calories in one cup of cereal. The same amount of Corn Flakes, on the other hand, has 100 calories. Both have less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, so there’s little chance you’ll poop your way to weight loss (sorry, but we use that word a lot in our household).

Special K does have more added nutrients, though.  Check out the nutrition labels below:

So which is “better?” Guess that depends on how you define better. I don’t really think one will help you lose more weight than the other, especially since breakfast is only one meal during a person’s day. But buyers should beware that  marketing claims are subject to interpretation.

Here are some marketing slogans/claims from top selling cereals:

Cheerios is a superfood for your heart (by helping remove some bad cholesterol from your body).

Frosted Mini Wheats have 8 layers of whole grain fiber to keep kids full and focused.

Life Cereal promotes healthy hearts and is an excellent source of B-vitamins to convert food into energy.

Kashi GOLEAN – A bowl has as much protein as an egg.

Moral to the story: Read nutrition labels and ingredients’ lists. What you see on TV may not always be as promising as it sounds. And don’t forget that a healthy diet – rich with nutrients and heart healthy – requires more than just a bowl of cereal.

Melinda Hinson