Cereal Killers Pay Off ‘Experts’ and Addict Kids
By Dr. Mercola
The myth that dietary fat increases your potential for obesity and causes heart disease has been perpetuated for years and has likely ruined the health of millions of people.
It is difficult to know just how many people suffer with poor health or have succumbed to disease as a result of following a conventional low-fat, high-carb diet.
Once metabolized, non-fiber carbohydrates turn into sugars in your body, raising your insulin and leptin levels. Reducing fat and increasing sugars and net carbs raises your risk for heart disease, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, and affects your neurological health and immunity.
The sugar industry funded research in the 1960s to publicly downplay the role sugar plays in your health and the development of disease.1 Sponsored research by Harvard scientists was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) refuting concerns about the role sugar plays in the development of heart disease.
These same tactics continue to be used in industry-funded research and councils publishing the views of paid experts to strengthen income for manufacturers.
The cereal industry is just the latest in a line of manufacturers who have taken advantage of the public through paid-expert education and media advertising affecting the youngest consumers.
Cereal Industry Fighting to Protect Sales
Stanton Glantz, Ph.D., co-authored the historical analysis of internal industry documents that revealed the sugar industry sponsored a program, including research, to cast doubt on the hazards of sugar, while simultaneously promoting fat as the culprit to bad health. According to Glantz:2
“It was a very smart thing the sugar industry did, because review papers, especially if you get them published in a very prominent journal, tend to shape the overall scientific discussion.”
The cereal industry has also been using paid experts to further their financial cause and improve profits, at the same time affecting your health.
Using the Breakfast Council, composed of dietary experts, Kellogg Company published a paper defining what constituted a quality breakfast in a nutritional journal, reportedly written by their “independent nutrition experts.”3
However, overseeing and providing feedback for the journal article was an employee of Kellogg who recommended a line be removed from the article that said 25 percent added sugar may be too high.4 The paper underwent peer review before being published.
Kellogg planned to use this journal article in comments on government dietary guidelines where it could be referenced as a key message for the company. The information was gathered by the Associated Press in a request for public records.5 The “independent experts” used by Kellogg were members of the Breakfast Council.
Kellogg Perpetuates Sugar Myth With Paid Not-So-Independent Experts
Kellogg used their association with the Breakfast Council to advertise on their website that these industry experts were helping to guide the nutritional content of the cereals.
But for the mere sum of $13,000 these industry experts were also not allowed to speak about other cereals or produce content negative to the cereal industry.6 These same experts were required to engage on social media and with colleagues to influence outreach of the company. The council was brought together in 2011.
Although Kellogg compensated the experts, the company published that they were “independent experts,” blurring the lines between financially rewarded promotion and impartial guidance.
Industry sponsored research that consistently favors the industry has influenced public health recommendations and damaged health. Marion Nestle, Ph.D. and professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, has commented on claims made by researchers saying:7
“I worry a lot about the effects of industry sponsorship on public belief in the credibility of nutrition science.”
Even if the research is sound, Nestle believes the ultimate reason many corporations sponsor research is for marketing purposes and not to improve public health.
If the results don’t statistically support the theory the company holds, researchers may simply communicate the statistics in a way that supports the theory. According to Nestle:8
“I have 95 published studies funded by every food company you can think of that favor the company’s interests. I’ve found nine that don’t.”
Kellogg Gives Breakfast Council the Ax
The Breakfast Council is no longer active and the webpage referring to them on Kellogg’s website has been removed.9 The contract with these six council members expired in May 2016, and it was not renewed. Their contract paid them $13,000 a year to provide the company with their expert voice in company marketing.10
Before being disbanded, Kellogg used the group to increase interest in cereal, a product that has experienced a loss in sales over the past decade. Sales dropped from $9.57 billion to $8.85 billion between 2012 and 2014, equating to an 8 percent drop in sales over two years.11
In the same period of time, sales for yogurt and eggs — products also eaten for breakfast — went up by similar percentages.
An interesting survey conducted by Mintel found millennials don’t have the energy for breakfast that requires clean up, while baby boomers continue to love cereals as much as they ever did.12 The type of individuals eating cereal is shifting, sparking industry movement toward producing cereals with a healthier profile.
To continue long-term growth, cereal companies need to grow their customer base, namely millennials. Since sales began slumping in the 1990s, cereal companies began including other products that would tempt the taste buds of those who enjoy snacking.13
With the encouragement of manufacturers, cereal is also becoming a part of the mix in the professional kitchen. Cocktails infused with Fruity Pebbles14 or Kellogg’s paella15 caught the eye of the manufacturers.
Kellogg picked up the idea and paid a group of chefs to create dishes using cereal.16 Although these chef creations will likely not boost business, they do increase visibility of the cereals, always a plus in marketing and sales.
Children’s Eating Habits Are Influenced by Food Ads
Both children and adults are influenced by advertising on television. Although the number of hours adults are watching live TV is dropping, the number of hours children are watching video on their digital devices is rising.
According to research from Nickelodeon, children born after 2005 are watching up to 35 hours of TV each week.17 That number represents the total number of hours a person in France can legally work in one week.18 And, according to Nickelodeon’s numbers, these same children are spending even more time on their digital devices.
All this time in front of the TV is contributing to mindless snacking and increasing the number of children suffering from obesity.19 In one experiment, researchers evaluated the influence that TV advertising had on the eating habits of 2- to 5-year-old children in the absence of hunger.20
Prior to the experiment the researchers fed the children, ensuring they were not hungry during the testing period. During the TV programming, the children were exposed to an ad for Bugle chips or for a department store.
All of the children had two snacks available during the programming: Bugle corn chips and another option. The researchers found children who saw the ad for corn chips ate approximately 30 more calories during their TV watching than those who saw the ad for the department store.21
While 30 calories may not seem like a lot, testing occurred over just one TV show. If you multiply the potential number of calories children may mindlessly eat while watching up to 35 hours of television a week, it becomes a significant issue.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no more than one hour per day of TV for children aged 2 to 5 to encourage activity and support healthy sleep habits. The results from this study may give you just one more reason to limit your child’s exposure to advertising. When choosing the shows your child is watching, pay attention to how products are promoted.
Although at age 2 children may be too young to understand the influence on their choices, you may consider gradually introducing information about how advertising influences decisions to help them resist the effects of media promotion. Ultimately, limiting exposure to TV is the best option.
To Improve Your Health, Reduce Your Net Carbs
Changing your and your children’s food choices to those with higher amounts of healthy fat and fewer net carbs will ultimately increase your energy level, improve your health and help you maintain a normal weight. Eating a healthy high-fat diet will help shift your metabolism from primarily burning carbs to burning fat, the basis of a ketogenic diet.
Your cells have the metabolic flexibility to burn glucose or break down fats for fuel. Most cancer cells don’t have this flexibility and require glucose to thrive, making a ketogenic diet advantageous for preventing cancer. For optimal health, you may need as much as 50 to 70 percent of your daily calories to come from healthy fats, such as coconut oil, MCT oil, organic pastured eggs, grass-pastured butter, avocado and raw nuts (pecans and macadamia nuts are particularly beneficial).
By eating a diet high in net carbohydrates you effectively prevent ketosis and force your body to burn glucose. Your net carbs equal the total carbs eaten minus the grams of fiber eaten that day. If you’re like most people eating a Western diet, your foods are heavily laden with sugars and other carbohydrates, and low in fiber.
Dietary fiber is non-digestible carbohydrates found in plant foods that help provide bulk in your diet and promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract by nourishing heathy gut bacteria. Fiber also reduces the net carbohydrate impact on insulin secretion.
Unfortunately, most Americans only consume between 12 and 16 grams of fiber per day22 when the Institute of Medicine recommends between 28 and 35 grams of fiber for women and men respectively.23 However, I don’t feel those recommendations are high enough and encourage you to eat close to 50 grams of fiber for each 1,000 calories of food each day.
When your diet is rich in carbohydrates and sugars, your liver downregulates the fat-burning process, as it is not needed, effectively losing the ability to burn fat despite an adequate supply. To cut out the mid-afternoon loss of energy, you’ll want to reduce your overall net carbs and increase the amount of healthy fats you consume.
Switching to Healthy Fat Improves Energy, Health and Reduces Weight
Lowering your net carbs increases the likelihood you’ll shed body fat more quickly, simultaneously improving your metabolism and boosting your energy levels. As sugars are one of the primary triggers for inflammation in your body, eating a diet high in fats also lowers the level of inflammation and promotes optimal health.
An effective way of achieving nutritional ketosis is to limit your net carbs to under 30 to 40 grams per day and limit protein to 1 gram of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of your lean body mass. You then make up the calories with an increase in healthy fats. Ideally, choose organic produce and pastured meats, and avoid genetically engineered (GE) foods. Essentially, this means eating more real food and very little to no processed foods.
Specific dietary fats can be harmful to your health, but saturated fats are not the culprit they’ve been made out to be. For an in-depth review of dietary fats see the Weston Price Foundation article, “Saturated Fat Does a Body Good.”24 A quick summary of the fats you want to avoid are:
• Trans fats
These act as a pro-oxidant and contribute to oxidative stress that causes cellular damage. These fats are often added to baked goods, as the fats are man-made and have a phenomenally long shelf life compared to healthy, natural fats.
• Highly Refined Polyunsaturated Vegetable Oils
Also called polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), these are often found in peanut, corn and soy oils. PUFAs are high in damaged omega-6 acids from the manufacturing process and produce a toxic oxidation product, such as cyclic aldehydes, when heated.
TLB recommends other pertinent health articles at Mercola.com
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