Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Badvertising: What's in Nesquik?

Do you have kids?

Tell me, can you fathom this scenario ever playing out?

Kid (with whiny voice): "Mo-om, I don't like milk!"
Mom: "Ok honey. How about I make it taste better?"
Kid: "What do you mean?"
Mom: "Watch"

Mom then measures out 3 teaspoons of sugar, dumps them one by one into the milk and stirs.

Kid: "Awesome!"

Sounds crazy, no?

And yet it's happening in kitchens the world over due to the combination of great marketing from the folks at Nesquick (who have currently partnered up with Disney and have licensed their Phineas and Ferb characters to sell chocolate syrup) along with the belief that there's a milk/calcium emergency out there that's so bad that it's wiser to add 3 teaspoons of sugar to every glass of your kids' milk (the amount in a serving of Nesquick syrup) than to have them drink less of it.

It's the they don't like fruit so we'd better feed them pie phenomenon.

Please don't put sugar in your kids' milk.


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  1. I am a fan of healthy eating, and my daughters have had sweetenend milk all the time, they have a very balanced diet, including pies, cakes. They are very slim, one actually underweight, very healthy. I have a feeling that letting children have many options actually makes them want less not more. I grew up with a mother watching over everything I ate since I was a chubby child and I would sneak fattening foods. My children have always had many options, no limits and they pick a very healthy diet naturally.

    1. I wish my child would pick a healthy diet naturally. He loves pizza, soda, cake and candy, and would eat those items at every meal if I allowed it. I agree with offering many options but the options need to be healthy options while the junk food -- like chocolate milk -- limited to special occasions like birthday parties.

  2. Hi Dr. Freedhof

    Your blog is the best; I read it every day!

    As a mother of three, who struggles to decipher and apply the numerous and varied (often opposing) messages on nutrition, I thank you for your thoughtful, interesting and balanced writing. If you ever come out with a book, I will be first in line to buy it.

    1. Thanks Collette!

      You can look for it on shelves in Spring 2013!

    2. Bobbini9:29 am

      Collette, you might look at the work of Ellyn Satter. She's a dietician who has written (and researched) extensively on children, food and nutrition. Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family is probably a good place to start.

  3. I disagree. A spoonful of syrup certainly does little harm, and can certainly be a part of a healthy balanced diet. I'm with Constanza-I'd rather include small amounts of sweets in the context of a balanced diet that either deprive my kids or my patients of some sweetened beverage or dessert. Kids are not having 6 cups of kale or collard greens or the amount of almonds or tofu needed to meet their calcium need.

    This isn't about appeasing kids or wimpy parenting, it's about balance and meeting nutrient needs. Where else might adequate calcium and D be coming from?
    I, too, raised 2 kids whom I never restricted. They have a healthier relationship with food than most anyone I know--and they were allowed access to sweets, including chocolate milk.
    That said, they had to eat at the table, never with the TV. They were taught to be critical viewers of the media, including ads directed at kids, and they were taught to ask themselves if they were hungry. They were not rewarded with food--at least beyond what occurs in the school system and outside of my home).They never hoarded Halloween candy, either!

    Blaming sugar, or chocolate milk, is way too simplistic. I expect better!

    1. To further make the point:

  4. There are two different issues here. Is it ok to allow your kids a treat once in a while? Of course. As parents if you choose to let kids to have chocolate milk on Friday nights or once in a while as a treat, that is your choice.

    But to advertise Nesquick to young children with cartoon characters and to promote it as a healthy choice to parents is irresponsible on the part of Nestle. Yes we need to teach our children to think critically, but shouldn't companies like Nestle share responsibility for the health of the nation's chilren?

    As a parent and a consumer, I think it is my responsibility to pressure Nestle to be responsible and ethical corporate citizens and stop advertising of junk food to young children with cartoon characters in the face of an overwhelming childhood obesity epidemic.

    I can't believe that the same Disney that is trying to combat childhood obesity with their (misguided)Habit Heroes is continuing to license their characters to hock junk food to kids. Talk about missing the boat!

    Shame on Nestle and Disney both.

  5. Anonymous7:07 am

    Thank you for saying "the world over", because I have recently been monitoring a school snack program run by UN agency which includes UHT chocolate milk (ingredient #2: sugar... and every other ingredient colour, flavour, chemicals). I keep trying to tell them that if they wouldn't feed it to their own kids every day, why are they feeding it to the world's poorest? But so far, no one is listening. I hope that this post can shed more light on the sugary milk issue... and not just in Canada.

  6. I wouldn't expect anything less from Nestle, who uses child slave labour to harvest cocoa. They're hurting kids on both ends of the process.