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Kellogg’s Project

on April 27, 2012

So I guess THIS will be the final week of blogs.

In class, we’re presenting our research topics, which I was actually impressed with. People have been doing a lot of really interesting things with the broad topic of “sociology of food.”

Here’s some info I’m using in my paper:

I chose to look at the 1980s because of the policy changes that happened in that time. Before 1984, the government (particularly the FDA and the USDA) were the only ones who were allowed to make specific public health claims. In 1984, the laws surrounding advertising became significantly more lenient. So instead of companies only being able to say “this product is healthy” they were able to say “this product is rich in _________ so if you consume this product, it will help you in this specific way”. As soon as the restrictions were changed, food companies immediately created advertisements that promoted their product in a different way. Before 1984 there were food trends, but after 1985 food trends changed quicker and increased in quantity. Before 1984, there was a trend in whole grain foods. In 1984 after the laws changed there was a huge push from advertising agencies to eat more dietary fiber because there was a study done that connected high fiber with a lower cancer risk. In 1985, there was an emphasis on having a low fat diet, which connected low fat foods with lower heart disease.

When companies were not allowed to make specific health claims in their advertisements, the government was the only source of information. But when private companies were able to make health claims, it created more direct competition because all of a sudden consumers were looking for products that fit the healthy food trends. It also led to an increase in product transparency. For example, before 1984, there was a claim linking fiber and lower cancer risk. After companies were allowed to make health claims, fiber content in cereals rose by more than a tenth of a gram per ounce. Cereals with high fiber content also rose in sales by 2 million. One of the conclusions I drew from my research was that in order to spread health claims, the government needs private companies because people tend to not pay attention to government notices. Private company advertising is much more effective than government funded advertising. More than people just not caring about government campaigns, two studies I found link nutrition to education.

So in here, we’ve talked about how people in better economic situations often eat better. But studies I found link poor diet to more than just finances. A study done by Texas A&M links geographic location with quality of diet. People in metropolitan areas and the north-eastern part of the country tend to have healthier diets than people in other areas. I found another study done by the USDA that links formal education with people’s eating habits. They conducted this study both before and after the law changes in the 1980s. They found that people with more formal schooling have a better understanding of what different foods do for your body. One of the reasons for this that they site is that government advertisements are found mostly in government places, like a public school. When people drop out of school or graduate, they lose contact with government health information. When private companies were able to share the same information as the government but they were able to reach more people.

Based on all that info, here’s my research question: How does Kellogg’s promote their products in terms of health factors. How have their advertisements changed over time? What nutritional elements do they emphasize? What are the cultural values do they reflect?




One response to “Kellogg’s Project

  1. Sheri Snyder says:

    Oh, THAT project – this was a nice teaser. I’ll read the finished product.

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