Leave Nutella alone!

You’re lucky if your child eats breakfast at all. In a recent study undertaken by Kellogg’s on breakfast habits, 40 percent of mothers interviewed said their kids don’t. Other research shows that 37 percent of young adults miss breakfast, too. Folk wisdom holds that it’s the most important meal of the day; now science confirms this really could be the case. A 2005 article reviewing more than 30 studies on breakfast consumption by children and adolescents surmised that skipping breakfast was linked to a higher intake of high-fat snacks throughout the day and that eating breakfast could positively benefit cognitive function and academic performance. There’s also a consensus that breakfast-eating children have better overall nutrition and lower Body Mass Indices. Convincing parents that breakfast is fundamental isn’t the problem; the challenge lies with convincing the kids. This is where Nutella, or rather its hint of cocoa, steps in. There’s no incentive like chocolate.

Given that kids regularly consume all sorts of terrible junk food (nearly one-third of American children, ages 4 to 19, eat fast food daily, according to a 2009 study), it’s a bit curious that Nutella’s breakfast claims have provoked such a fervent backlash. The blogosphere is riddled with admonitions hurled at Ferrero, there’s a Facebook page questioning the value of breakfasting on chocolate spread, and let’s not forget the ongoing lawsuit. Yet no one is suing Kellogg’s, even though its Frosted Flakes website promotes the excessively sugary cereal as being “great-tasting fuel” packed with “good-for-you grains that give you the great-tasting energy you need.”