The food giant last week confirmed its commitment to communicate the message of nutritional balance, portion control and physical activity promoted by the Ad Council's Coalition for Healthy Children.
Set up in 2005, the coalition aims to help combat childhood obesity by developing consistent research-based messages for marketers, media and government agencies. General Mills is one of the members of the coalition. Other food and beverage firms that support the initiative include PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Kellogg and Coca-Cola.
In a move announced on Thursday, General Mills pledged to feature the Coalition for Healthy Children's messages on the packages of 500 million products consumed by children aged 12 and under.
The firm also said it will develop a new website as a "relevant, engaging" way for kids to learn more about good nutrition. Both moves are expected to take place as from the summer.
The firm also said that as from January 2008 it would expand its communication to television advertising on programs for children 12 or younger, as well as in brand Free-Standing Inserts targeting parents.
"General Mills has always been a leader, innovating to make people's lives healthier, and we want to be part of the solution to this issue," said Marc Belton, executive vice president, Worldwide Health, Brand and New Business Development for General Mills.
"This initiative is an important step forward. As a charter supporter, we're going to apply our skills and talents to addressing this key issue," he added.
In another move announced on the same day, the Ad Council teamed up with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Dream Works Animation to launch a series of advertisements to address childhood obesity.
Featuring characters from the movie Shrek, the ads are an extension of HHS' ongoing 'Small Step' Childhood Obesity Prevention campaign, which encourages children and families to lead healthy lifestyles. The new ads will urge all children to engage in physical activity, complementing the current advertisements that promote the benefits of eating healthy foods.
According to HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. More than 10 million school age children in America - 18 percent - are considered overweight, placing them at far greater risk of growing into adults who have cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases.