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Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Cheerios: A Drug?

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I really don't think the cholesterol lowering effects of Cheerios are comparable to how a drug may help lower cholesterol, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is saying that the claims Cheerios is making on it's boxes are similar to those made by drug companies. And, by the way, it is against the law. The FDA sent General Mills a letter (read the whole letter here) saying that the phrases they are using on their packages and website are misleading consumers.

Here is snapshot of what FDA said in their letter:
Unapproved New Drug
Based on claims made on your product's label, we have determined that your Cheerios® Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease. Specifically, your Cheerios® product bears the following claims on its label:

• "you can Lower Your Cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks"
• "Did you know that in just 6 weeks Cheerios can reduce bad cholesterol by an average of 4 percent? Cheerios is ... clinically proven to lower cholesterol. A clinical study showed that eating two 1 1/2 cup servings daily of Cheerios cereal reduced bad cholesterol when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol."

These claims indicate that Cheerios® is intended for use in lowering cholesterol, and therefore in preventing, mitigating, and treating the disease hypercholesterolemia. Additionally, the claims indicate that Cheerios® is intended for use in the treatment, mitigation, and prevention of coronary heart disease through, lowering total and "bad" (LDL) cholesterol.
You may or may not think this is a big deal, but I can tell you that the FDA takes health claims seriously. There are only certain FDA approved claims that food companies are allowed to make on a product label. In this letter they also included the website as part of the label since the web address www.wholegrainnation.com is listed there. So that means that everything on the website also needs to comply with the official FDA health claims.

Cheerios is a great cereal that is low in sugar and has soluble fiber. I am sure they will correct their language to comply with the FDA's request and this will blow over. Keep eating your Cheerios with low fat milk and a handful of blueberries. Yum!
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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