NAD Reviews Advertising For General Mills’ Cheerios

New York, NY – July 2, 2007 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus determined that General Mills substantiated its cholesterol reduction claim for Cheerios cereal but recommended that the company  modify disclosures related to such claims.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined broadcast and print advertising claims for Cheerios as part of its ongoing monitoring program.

Express and implied claims at issue included:

  • “In those same 6 weeks [since the holidays] Cheerios could’ve helped lower your cholesterol 4%.”
  • “Studies show two 1½ cup servings daily for 6 weeks reduced bad cholesterol about 4% as part of a low fat diet.”
  • One serving (1 cup) of Cheerios daily for 6 weeks can reduce bad cholesterol about 4% as part of a low fat diet.

The advertiser argued that the express claims are based on and substantiated by three clinical studies, conducted over several years, specifically evaluating the cholesterol lowering effects of three cups of Cheerios consumed daily for six weeks – specifically, reductions of LDL (or “bad” cholesterol) by 4.2 percent, 4.9 percent and 5.3 percent with similar reductions in total cholesterol (3.8 percent, 4.4 percent and 4.5 percent) while maintaining HDL or “good” cholesterol.

Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that the advertiser provided adequate substantiation for the claim “In those same 6 weeks … Cheerios could’ve helped lower your cholesterol 4%.”

However, since the participants in the studies followed a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet, NAD recommended that the advertising’s disclaimers (which already reference the need to follow a low fat diet) also include a reference to a low-cholesterol diet.  NAD determined that the super in the commercial (“Studies show two 1½ cup servings daily for 6 weeks reduced bad cholesterol about 4% as part of a low fat diet”) appropriately qualified the main claim.

NAD determined also that the implied claim that one serving/cup of Cheerios can lower cholesterol four percent in six weeks was not communicated based on the clear and prominent disclosures in the advertisements.