Pants on Fire

Most of my Facebook friends are used to my occasional posting of articles from sites like Weighty Matters, which show just how twisted advertisers can be when it comes to hawking their wares. I was particularly incensed by Nutella and their assertion that their product is a healthy breakfast option – one that will really get kids going. Let’s be clear – Nutella in the morning is not likely to make your child climb a rope in gym class better than her peers, more than likely all the refined sugar will make for a short sugar high followed by a pretty big crash. I’ve been the kid in class hitting a sugar crash and it didn’t make me smarter, faster or more productive. It made me tired and inattentive.

When I posted about Nutella originally a lot of people pointed out that most parents know it’s just a sometime food and I shouldn’t be too hard on them. I get that. I actually like Nutella – it tastes really good, especially on warm toast. If their advertising showed happy people eating Nutella on warm toast, I’d have no issue. It’s when they start promoting it as a healthy breakfast food for kids that I want to throw things at the TV.

I was thrilled when one mother finally sued – she was recently given a very large settlement – because regardless of whether you or I know it’s a sometimes food, that’s not what they are saying in their ads. And let’s be realistic – there are a lot of parents who can’t or don’t understand that advertising isn’t always honest. Companies should not be allowed to promote unhealthy foods to children and claim that they’re healthy – it’s just wrong.

Case in point, McDonald’s. Today, Weighty Matters pointed out that their new “fruit” drink for kids is being promoted as having five servings of fruit – making it a healthy alternative for kids. There is no mention of the excessive amount of sugar that the drink contains. I’m not anti-McDonald’s – I like that they offer apple slices and milk in their kid’s meals. I like that they have made a real effort to create some healthy alternatives on their menu. And my husband really, really likes their coffee. What I don’t like is feeling lied to by a company. If I was a parent taking my child in and opted to take their advertising at face-value, it looks like a reasonable alternative to pop. But it’s not.

I’m not saying that all consumers aren’t going to know that they’re being misled, but why is it that it’s even an option? Shouldn’t we have a right to honesty in nutrition claims? Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I’m still hoping it will happen.