Study: 84% of Nutrition Labels On Kids’ Foods “Misleading”

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Labels on the front of foods marketed to children tout all sorts of nutritional benefits, from high protein and natural flavoring to heaps of fiber and vitamin C. But most of those claims are just feel-good marketing designed to mask the fact that our kids are being sold junk food. This is according to a study released yesterday by the Strategic Alliance, a California-based group of nutrition and exercise experts. It concludes that 84 percent of the nutritional claims made on the front of 58 “better for you” products were misleading; most of the products didn’t even meet the basic nutrition standards set by the US Department of Agriculture and the National Academies of Science. 

Among the worst offenders:

  • Dora the Explorer Fruit Shapes calls itself “an excellent source of vitamin C, naturally flavored, 90 calories per pouch, and gluten free.” But 58 percent of its calories come from sugar.
  • The “Meal Facts” panel on Kid Cuisine All Star Chicken Breast Nuggets advertises “white meat chicken, excellent source of protein, no artificial colors or flavors.” Yet 38 percent of its calories come from fat.
  • Apple Jacks touts its high fiber and low fat content, but derives 48% of its calories from 
    sugar—its primary ingredient.

 “Without FDA regulation, instead of giving more information to parents struggling to make the best decisions for their kids, the system  is deceiving them,” said the study’s author, nutritionist Juliet Sims. “The question is: Do food companies want to be on the side of parents and give them helpful information, or don’t they?” 

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest