Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Kellogg Company (OB 95)


  1.  Tim Mobsby is Area President for Kellogg Europe. He is British and has worked for the Kellogg Company for over 20 years in various capacities in the UK, USA and France including as Managing Director of Kellogg UK.

  2.  Kellogg's is a leading producer of ready-to-eat cereals and convenience foods. The company markets its products in more than 180 countries and has been active in the UK since the 1920s. Leading Kellogg's brands include Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Frosties, Special K, Coco Pops, All-Bran and Nutri-Grain.

  3.  We are aware of and share the increasing concerns around the rise of unhealthy lifestyles, in particular the rising incidence of obesity amongst children. In this memorandum we comment on Kellogg's nutrition heritage and commitment to providing high quality, safe foods that respond to changing consumer needs and tastes, offer choice and reflect emerging learnings on nutrition science and well-being. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the inquiry and aim to offer insight gained from our particular focus and expertise in nutrition and as a major advertiser and marketer. We offer our thoughts on what we consider to be the proactive role and best approach for companies such as ourselves in helping address the challenge of the rising incidence of obesity levels. In addition, we include in the Appendices the following information:

      (1)  overview of the benefits of eating breakfast cereals;

      (2)  summary of the various government and health bodies who support the consumption of cereals and grain based foods;

      (3)  Kellogg's Nutrition Policy;

      (4)  summary of information on Colorado on the Move and Kellogg's sponsorship; and

      (5)  recent research, commissioned by Kellogg's in UK, France and Spain amongst mothers and children.


  4.  Since its foundation Kellogg's has been committed to nutrition and health and encouraging consumers of all ages to improve their own health and make informed food choices. Examples of our commitment in this regard include:


    Kellogg's was the first food company to introduce a fortified breakfast cereal, PEP, in the 1930s.


    We were one of the first food companies to introduce voluntary nutrition labelling on packaging as early as the 1940s.


    We commission and support scientific research designed to improve understanding of the role of our foods and individual nutrients to the well-being of consumers and are proud that such research demonstrates the positive contribution of breakfast cereals to the diets and health of both adults and children. Such research shows that children who eat a cereal breakfast are more likely to meet recommended daily intakes in vitamins and minerals, have lower fat intakes and may perform better both physically and academically. Specifically relevant to the issue of obesity, research in France, Spain and the UK confirms that children and adults who consume breakfast cereals (including pre-sweetened cereals) tend to have lower body mass index (weight to height ratio) compared to non-consumers of breakfast cereals.


    We invest considerable effort and resources in the UK on programmes communicating the importance of breakfast and partnering in the development of nutrition education campaigns. Examples include:

      (i)  Leaflets on healthy eating as part of coping with diabetes with the endorsement of Diabetes UK.

      (ii)  Kellogg's was a partner for the British Dietetic Association campaign Weight Wise Campaign; a three-year obesity campaign. This year the messages were targeted at children. As part of the campaign Kellogg's produced a leaflet in conjunction with the BDA and (along with a leading retailer) organised supermarket tours with State Registered Dieticians.

      (iii)  Kellogg's sponsorships in the field of nutrition education include the launch of the UK Breakfast Club Awards in association with Education Extra and the New Policy institute with backing from the Department of Health and Education.


  5.  Scientists agree that the causes of obesity are multi-factorial and complex. Genetic, ethnic, hormonal aspects, physiological and sociological factors can all influence the incidence and progression of obesity. While it would be convenient and desirable for the problem to be single-dimensional with simple actions and initiatives able to make a difference, regrettably science does not support that case. Both diet and physical activity have important roles in the treatment and prevention of obesity, requiring behaviour change which is difficult for many people. We believe a prolonged and concerted effort involving both private and public organisations accepting and exercising their individual responsibilities but also acting collaboratively in a cohesive and co-ordinated manner will be necessary to arrest and eventually reverse the rising trend.

  6.   As previously noted, various factors are associated with the increase in obesity incidence, one of which is lack of physical activity. Increasing levels of physical activity may have the greatest impact in slowing the increase in obesity whilst also improving general well being. We say this for the following reasons:


    Available in home consumption data suggests caloric intakes, including amongst children, to be stable or reducing slightly, suggesting reduced levels of physical activity to be the biggest factor explaining body mass index increases. Since 1994, expenditure on foods eaten outside the home has increased in real terms by 13%, versus a 2% decline for foods eaten in home. In 2000 about 230 calories (11.6 %) came from foods eaten outside of the home.


    Reducing calorie intake increases the risk of nutrient deficiencies.


    Physical exercise has many benefits beyond simply burning calories such as raising HDL cholesterol levels and building stronger bones and muscles.

  7.  In observing this we do not underestimate the challenges of bringing about such behavioural change. This should not dissuade the effort, rather reinforce the view that it will require a sustained, consistent and collaborative effort on all sides.

  8.  We believe and support the view that changes to diet will be necessary to accompany increased levels of physical activity. We also support the view that habits as adults are strongly influenced by those established in childhood hence the importance that children are encouraged to eat a balanced diet. We support the focus of current dietary guidelines which recommend decreased consumption of fat to be replaced with increased consumption of carbohydrates of cereal, vegetable, fruit and other plant origins.

  9.  We believe the food industry can and should play an important and pro-active role in helping both promote higher levels of physical activity and promote good nutrition such that consumers make informed food choices.


  10.  We are aware that advertising and marketing, particularly that directed at children, attracts a lot of focus and attention as being a perceived causal factor contributing directly to the problem of obesity. We believe this to be an over-simplification of a very complex issue.

  11.  Advertising has been and continues to be an essential and integral component of Kellogg's approach to business, it encourages competition and is a necessary tool in a free market economy. For consumers of all ages advertising provides information and encourages innovation. Through our advertising we seek to inform consumers of the benefits of our foods, promote their purchase and build preference for our brands.

  12.  Breakfast cereals are a mature category. Volume is and has been essentially static for some time. Pre-sweetened children's cereals are similarly static. The strong emphasis on TV advertising within the breakfast cereals category is explained by the following:


    Breakfast cereals are a true mass market product, with household penetration approaching 100%. It is also one of the few food categories where the main purchaser of the product, normally mothers, are willing to let their children ask for a particular brand.


    Frequency of consumption, particularly amongst children is relatively high (five to six times per week). Children of all ages thrive on variety and novelty (the average home has four to six cereals in the store cupboard) meaning a wide range of cereals are advertised.


    Snacks foods and soft drinks are purchased (at least sometimes) by the end user, including by children, and can be stimulated by availability and visibility in convenience stores. Similarly meals and snack meals have presence "on the street". Conversely, breakfast cereals are consumed almost exclusively in the home and purchased almost exclusively by the household provider. Put simply, the breakfast cereal category relies heavily upon TV advertising and has fewer options to secure exposure than other food forms which are more portable, designed for occasions other than breakfast, and which are often consumed outside the home.

  13.  As responsible advertisers, we believe that the current legislation on advertising to children provides the necessary conditions for protecting them and ensuring that advertising is not only fair, honest and truthful, but also takes account of the limited life experience and particular sensibilities and vulnerabilities of children.

  14.  Kellogg's works responsibly within the existing self-regulatory and statutory codes and indeed goes further. Our advertisements directed at children almost invariably depict situations involving physical activity. The number of inquiries about advertising received by the Kellogg's Careline—a free phone service—are negligible.

  15.  Suggestions to ban advertising of all or certain food products to children we believe to be misplaced and not supported by the facts:


    In Quebec (a province in Canada), where advertising to children is banned, the incidence of obesity is no lower than in other developed countries. The situation is similar in Sweden.


    Banning advertising in children's programming ignores the reality that much of children's TV viewing is of adult programming.


    Banning of advertising on certain products pre-supposes that there is a direct causal link between advertising and obesity. There is no scientific substantiation for such an assertion.


  16.  As we make clear above, obesity has many causes and any solution will require a collaborative effort involving all stakeholders. For it's part, Kellogg's can and will continue to:


    Offer choices and nutrition information to our consumers. Continue to identify ways in which we can more strongly promote increased levels of physical activity and adoption of a balanced diet.


    Provide comprehensive nutritional labelling on our products and provide information to allow informed food choices.


    Consider emerging science and learnings as well as consumer perceptions when developing and reformulating our products.


    Continue to increase our practice of collaborating with nutrition experts, health and Government authorities, charities and various industry and consumer groups in developing and pursuing communications and educational programmes to promote the importance of a balanced diet together with regular exercise.


    Support and contribute to informed review of food advertising codes to ensure they take account of current consumer attitudes and trends. Also continue our support of media literacy programmes such as Media Smart and other programmes to encourage children to engage with the media in a positive way.


    We'll encourage others in the food industry to undertake similar actions.


    In light of the current concerns about obesity, we are going to review our products, labelling and advertising to see whether there are changes in our current approaches which should be made in order to be more even more responsive to current concerns.

  17.  In order for Kellogg's to commit hearts, money and resource on these areas and be confident we have the continued freedom to communicate our brands and their benefits in the way we do currently, there are important criteria to consider:


    A more restricted regulatory and legislative environment would limit the ability of companies such as ourselves to work in partnership to resolve the current health challenges.


    There needs to be a greater acceptance and understanding of the commercial needs facing businesses and how through mutual co-operation and collaboration in educational campaigns and other initiatives, we can impact consumer understanding and behaviour.

  It will only be through the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders involved in society in a prolonged and concerted effort involving both private and public organisations working together that any true progress can be made in helping combat the challenges of obesity. Kellogg's is committed to continue to do whatever it can to assist in such an approach.

November 2003



  Nutrition research confirms that children and adults who eat breakfast, including cereals, have diets which are lower in fat and higher in carbohydrate, in line with the recommendations of leading health organisations across the world. Consumers of fortified breakfast cereals have higher vitamin and mineral intakes and improved nutritional and health status.

  Examples of scientific literature to support this include:

  On average adults eat one 30g serving of breakfast cereals each day. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: adults aged 19-64 years (2002).

  On average children eat one 30g serving of breakfast cereals each day. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people aged 4-18 years (2000).

  People who eat breakfast tend to be slimmer than those who skip breakfast. Gibson & O'Sullivan (1995). Breakfast cereal consumption patterns and nutrient intakes in British schoolchildren. Journal of Royal Society of Health 115 (6): 366-370.

  People who eat breakfast regularly are less likely to be overweight than those who skip breakfast.

  Haines et al (1996). Trends in breakfast consumption of US adults between 1965-1991. JADA 96: 464-470.

  The more often you eat breakfast the more likely you are to be slim. Summerbell CD et al (1996) Relationship between feeding pattern and body mass index in 220 free-living people in four age groups. Eur J Clin Nutr 50:513-519.

  People who eat breakfast cereals tend to be slimmer than those who either skip breakfast or eat meat and eggs for breakfast. Cho S et al (2003) The Effect of Breakfast Type on Macronutrient Intakes and Body Mass Index (BMI) of Americans. J Am Coll Nutr. 22:296-30.

  Both body weight and body shape are healthier among those who eat breakfast cereals compared to those who don't. Bertrais S et al (2000) Contribution of ready-to-eat cereals to nutritional intakes in French adults. relations with corpulence. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 44: 249-255.

  Overweight children are more likely to skip breakfast than their normal weight peers. Ortega et al (1998) Differences in the breakfast habits of overweight/obese and normal weight schoolchildren. Int J Vit Nutr Res 68: 125-132l.

  Skipping breakfast means that important nutrients are missed which are not made up during the rest of the day. Cho S et al (2003)The Effect of Breakfast Type on Macronutrient Intakes and Body Mass Index (BMI) of Americans. J Am Coll Nutr. 22:296-302.

  High blood cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk of heart disease. Research has shown that adults who eat ready-to-eat breakfast cereals have a lower cholesterol levels than non-consumers. A similar trend has also been shown in schoolchildren. Preziosi et al 1996. Serra Majem and Aranceta Bartrina, (2000). Desayuno y equilibrio alimentario. Estudio enKid. Masson.

  Fortified Breakfast cereals are a major source of B vitamins in UK children's diets, providing 21% thiamin and riboflavin, 16% niacin, 18% B6 and 22% folate. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people aged 4-18 years (2000).

  One fifth of girls aged 11-18 years have very low riboflavin intakes and are likely to be deficient in this vitamin National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people age 4-18 years (2000).

  Breakfast cereals provide one tenth of the fibre in the diet of young people in the UK. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people aged 4-18 years (2000).

  Fortified foods such as breads and breakfast cereals provide almost one third of children's calcium intakes. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people aged 4-18 years (2000).

  One in eight boys and one in four girls aged 11-14 years have very low calcium intakes and are likely to be deficient in this mineral. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people aged 4-18 years (2000).

  Breakfast cereals encourage the consumption of milk. Eating a cereal breakfast with milk is an effective way to increase calcium intake, which is an important mineral for children and teenagers for the development of strong bones and teeth. Nicklas et al (1998). Am J Clin Nutr; 67 (suppl): 757S-63S.

  Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common nutritional problem in the Western world, most commonly affecting infants, children and young people and women of child bearing age. Almost half of young people aged between 11-18 years eat very low levels of iron and so are likely to be deficient in this mineral. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people aged 4-18 years (2000).

  Fortified breakfast cereals provide one quarter of total iron intakes among young people. Fortified breakfast cereals are the single biggest source of iron in the young persons diet, providing more iron than meat and meat products, breads, or vegetables. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people age 4-18 years (2000).

  Breakfast cereals provide just 7% added sugar intake in a child's diet, compared to 14% from biscuits, buns and cakes, 33% from drinks, 21% from confectionery and 6% from milk and milk products. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people aged 4-18 years (2000).

  No health effects, other than an association with dental caries, have been conclusively shown to be related to sugar consumption. There is no direct connection between the intake of added sugars and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 2003; 78 (suppl): 814S.

  Data show that high fat and low carbohydrate or low sugar intakes are associated with higher incidence of overweight ie sugar may be protective against obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 2003; 78 (suppl): 814S.



A.   UK's Food Standard Agency Public Website (In total there are 20 references to breakfast cereal)

  "breads and cereals should make up about one-third of the diet".


  "Aim to eat plenty of starchy foods—or complex carbohydrates—each day, such as cereals, pulses and potatoes".

  Your growing child—"fortified breakfast cereals as source of vitamin D, iron:

    —  weaning food, foods for toddlers, women—pregnancy—fibre, iron, folic acid, vit D. men—carbohydrate; and

    —  getting the balance right, healthy eating, getting physical, increasing fibre, iron, losing weight".

Importance of Breakfast

  "Is it really important to have breakfast? It's often said that breakfast is `the most important meal of the day' but many of us find it hard to find the time to have breakfast before heading off to work or school".

  "And some people choose to skip breakfast because they believe it will help them to control their weight".

  "But more and more studies show that the importance of breakfast is not just a myth—eating breakfast can have a range of beneficial effects including helping to maintain a healthy body weight".

  "To go to school or work without breakfast affects concentration and energy levels throughout the day. This is because by the time we wake up the last meal we ate was many hours ago so our blood glucose is low"

B.   Organisations who support dietary changes towards grain based foods

  American Dietetic Association

  Diabetes Association (USA/Canada/UK)

  American Health Foundation

  American Institute of Cancer Research

  Canadian Cancer Society

  Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Ernahrung (Germany)

  Europe Against Cancer

  Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

  Food and Nutrition Bureau (Netherlands)

  French Health Education Committee

  German Society for Nutrition

  Health and Welfare Canada

  Imperial Cancer Research Fund (England)

  Japanese National Cancer Center

  National Academy of Sciences

  National Cancer Association (Denmark)

  National Institute of Nutrition (Italy)

  National Nutrition Council of Norway

  National Food Agency (Scandinavia)

  National Food Council (France)

  National Heart Association (Denmark)

  National Institute of Nutrition (Italy)

  National Research Inst. of Diet and Nutrition (France)

  Swedish National Food Administration

  US Department of Agriculture, FDA

  World Health Organization (WHO)



  The Kellogg Company is a founding member of the University of Colorado Friends of the Center for Human Nutrition that launched "Colorado on the MoveTM" as the first statewide obesity prevention program in the US in October 2002. With the help of funds from its members, the program has been evaluated in schools, worksites and communities. From the beginning, the program has been committed to continuously improving the health and quality of life of people. The message has been simple, "walking just 2,000 steps more every day can help prevent a number of important health concerns and stop weight gain". More importantly, the Colorado on the MoveTM initiative is an easy, achievable, and fun way to address an important health concern.

  In 2002, Kellogg Company funded "Families on the Move" with Dr Hill. The objective of the study was to determine if adding an extra 2,000 steps to your day and regularly eating ready-to-eat breakfast cereal would help prevent weight gain in families with at least one overweight child between the ages of 10-12 years old. The 14-week study found (yet unpublished) that this program to increase walking and eat more ready-to-eat breakfast cereal helped people to lose body fat and reduce their body mass index (BMI). Perhaps, more importantly, it helped to prevent weight gain in children.

  Kellogg Company's legacy is based on the philosophy that people can improve their health by changing their eating habits. The challenge is to meet nutritional needs from fewer calories at a time when physical activity has declined. Fortified breakfasts cereals are nutrient dense foods that can help consumers meet their dietary requirements while limiting their energy intakes.



  Research presented at the European Nutrition Conference in Rome (October 2003) shows that the biggest influence on the eating habits and food choices of children was their mother.

  This new study highlights the central role that mothers play in helping to shape the eating habits of children. It also indicates that health promotion professionals may need to have a better understanding the practical barriers to healthy eating that mothers face in busy day to day family life.

  The study[20]was conducted by the HPI Research Group on behalf of Kellogg's in UK, Italy and Spain to explore the attitudes of children (aged 7-11), mothers and health professionals towards food and healthy eating.

  One of the most significant findings is in all countries children's attitude towards healthy eating always mirrors those of their mother.

  The results clearly showed that from a child's point of view, the main carer (usually the mother) is seen as the most trusted and most frequent source of information about food and nutrition.

  Children are far more likely to believe what they learn about nutrition in school if this is supported by beliefs and actions of their mother in the home.

  "How do you know that this is good for you? My mummy says so." UK boy aged eight.

  Children who eat with their mother or parents are more likely to eat a wider range of foods and enjoy a balanced meal including vegetables and fruit than those who eat alone or just with brothers and sisters

  Italian mothers place much more emphasis on setting a good example during family meals compared to those in Spain or the UK. Italian children also have a much more positive attitude to foods like boiled vegetables, that are disliked by children in the other two countries

  Mothers themselves under-estimated the extent of their influence on children's eating habits. Practical and lifestyle pressures are reasons given as barriers to being a good role model for healthy eating. Lack of time, especially for working parents and a desire to avoid conflict with their children was given as reasons to compromises over meal composition.

  The study also indicates that in all three countries health professionals often do not understand the daily challenge mothers face in feeding their families. Few practical ideas were offered to help mothers to encourage healthy eating at mealtimes, or on how to persuade children to try new or disliked foods.

  Health professionals did not believe that mothers have either the knowledge or skills to teach her children good habits, but were unable to come up with solutions to providing mum with the information that she needs. Therefore greater insights by health professionals in the realities of family life would aid communication of health eating messages to parents.

  S Stork and[21]RJ Fletcher: Knowledge, Attitudes, Food Preferences In Relation To Health Perceptions Of European Children, Their Mothers And Selected Health Professionals; Difference and Similarities Within And Across Countries.


  The research was commissioned by Kellogg's and conducted by HPI Research Group in the UK, Spain and Italy in Spring 2002. The research involved 11 peer groups of children (aged 7-11 years), four peer groups of mothers and in-depth interviews with healthcare professionals (5 per country).



  Kellogg Company's practices can be summarised as follows:

  1.  The acceptability of our products in flavour, texture and appearance is essential if they are to make any nutritional contribution.

  2.  Essential nutrients are restored to products at the levels that existed before processing whenever feasible, assuming the level in the pre-processed grain is high enough to make it a significant dietary source.

  3.  Products are fortified with added nutrients and at higher levels than existed before processing in keeping with the following considerations:

    (a)  The nutrient intake of the population.

    (b)  How specific products are used by the consumer.

    (c)  Technical feasibility.

  4.  Educating consumers on the importance of good nutrition is a continuing program. Through advertising, product packages, educational materials, and publicity, we shall continue advertising the public on the value of a good breakfast and a balanced diet.

  5.  All Nutritional information is carefully reviewed for accuracy by a professional nutritionist to assure the consumer factual information about our products.

20   HPI Research Group, UK. Back

21   Kellogg Europe. Back

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