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Published:May 18th, 2011 09:08 EST
Is Cap'n Crunch Going to Walk the Plank?

Is Cap'n Crunch Going to Walk the Plank?

By Donna Cavanagh

When I was a kid, I looked forward to my morning dish of cereal. I loved that Count Chocula, Tony the Tiger and the Snap, Crackle and Pop trio were there to brighten my morning. Today, my cereal choices have healthy-sounding names such as Kashi or anything with the word bran in the title, but I I still have fond memories of Tony the Tiger or the Lucky Charms Leprechaun.

It`s sad to think that one day my favorite cereal characters " yes, even Cap`n Crunch might be nothing but a distant memory.  

Well, the cereals that I grew up on are probably not going anywhere for a while, but the government has proposed voluntary guidelines which will change how these cereals are marketed in the United States.  At present, 70 percent of food marketing expenditures are for cereals, restaurant foods and snack foods.

The advertising targets kids and reaches them through TV, text messaging, video games and computers.  Does this advertising work?  Yes, it seems that children are a major influence in what food purchases are made in households. 

So, the government thinks it is best to try and curtail the crappy food`s influence on our youth. It`s no secret that we have a childhood obesity problem in the U.S. because kids do not know how to play anymore.  No one goes out after school and rides bikes or shoots hoops. Kids stay indoors and play video games or post nasty things about their classmates on Facebook. 

So, how did parents and kids` laziness become the cereal companies` problems? Well, if kids are not exercising, they should not be shoving the sugary and fat-laden food into their mouths and that food includes the delicious cereals. 

With the new government guidelines, which go into effect over the next five years, the cereal companies will not only be encouraged to put more healthy stuff in cereals but they will be discouraged from trying to sell our children on the benefits of the not-so-healthy stuff in their cereals. 

Do I object to these guidelines?  No. As sugary and sweet as cereals are, the companies that make them are not.  The companies` motives are a profitable bottom line. Their goal is not preventing Type 2 diabetes in little Joey Smith who lives in East Snow Shoe, Ohio.  I know I hear people saying, "It`s a parent`s responsibility to monitor what their children eat."  

I used to go along with the idea that parents know best for their own children until I saw a Sunday morning infomercial for a new program that teaches parents how to teach their two-month-old baby how to read. 

When I saw the proud daddy on this commercial drilling his infant with flashcards so his kid could read by the time he was two, I knew there were parents out there who have lost all common sense. Is it really necessary for an infant to know how to read?  Maybe, these parents should put down the "Making Your Child a Genius" program and instead, take their kids to the park where they could play on the swings. 

Oh, that`s right -- the swings are too dangerous now.  Kids could get hurt if they jump off or swing too high, and anyone who has ever seen an episode of Law & Order SVU knows that strangers and perverts just wait by the swings to abduct every child. 

At least a parent could enroll a kid in organized sports for exercise, but only if the parents promise they will abide by the new rules where no one keeps score because keeping score might diminish the losing side`s self confidence. Also, there has to be limits on sliding or running too fast as these activities might cause someone to trip and fall and get a bloody nose or knee or something.

I have a tough time getting my mind around this protection-at-all-cost mentality.  I played on playgrounds in the Bronx. We didn`t have the recycled tires underneath our swing sets to buffer our keesters if we fell. No, we had good old-fashioned concrete. We had monkey bars and that merry-go-round apparatus.  I loved that thing.

We would all sit down on the ride and just hold on. There were no seat belts, and we would take turns being the designated spinner. The spinner`s job was to get the merry-go-round moving so fast that we would all become dizzy to the point where we were ready to pass out-- and then we would jump off onto the concrete. Okay, so some of us are not as smart as we should be due to head injuries, but we played outside and got exercise which meant we could still eat sugary cereal without worrying that we were going to get Type 2 Diabetes. 

So, what`s my point?  To be honest, I have no freaking idea.  The merry-go-round memory just made my head hurt again, so I forgot what I was saying.  Oh, yes, cereals and the guidelines.  What is the big deal?  Your kids will be healthier for it, and you won`t have to worry as much about what is in the cereals.  With less time for worrying, you can go outside and play and everyone is happy " just avoid the concrete playgrounds.