Nestlé claims it doesn't market candy to children but health advocates say a new line of Girl Scout-themed Crunch candy bars violates the company's pledge.
The limited-edition candy bars bear the familiar Girl Scouts logo and evoke three popular Girl Scout Cookie flavors. A key difference between the Nestlé Girl Scout candy bars and Girl Scout cookies is that the new candy bars have more calories, more saturated fat, and more sugars, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
"A third of the kids in the United States are overweight or obese, yet Nestlé is targeting vulnerable young girls with these obesogenic junk foods," said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan. "It's not credible for the company to claim these are marketed exclusively to adults, any more than if their labels bore Dora the Explorer instead of the Girl Scouts."
Nestlé's Thin Mints candy bar has 200 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat, and 16 grams of sugars; a Caramel & Coconut variety has 190 calories, 9 grams of saturated fat, and 17 grams of sugars; a Peanut Butter Crème variety has 190 calories, 6 grams of saturated fat, and 13 grams of sugars.
Nestlé's pledge not to market any candy to children is made through its membership in the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, the industry’s self-regulatory body.
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, candy is the fourth-largest source of sugars in Americans' diets, after sugary drinks, grain-based desserts, and dairy desserts. Chocolate candy bars are calorically dense and high in saturated fat and sugars.
"The Girl Scout tie-in and logo will attract the attention of children, especially young girls," said Lori Dorfman, director of Berkeley Media Studies Group, a project of the Public Health Institute. "After all, for 100 years, the Girl Scouts has worked to keep focused on girls' issues, empowering young girls around the world. Even if the candy bar advertising is targeted towards adults, the Girl Scouts image appeals to children and so constitutes marketing to children."
In a letter today to Nestlé USA Chairman and CEO Brad Alford, CSPI's Wootan and BMSG's Dorfman urged the company to stop marketing unhealthy foods featuring the Girl Scout's name and logo and refrain from similar marketing approaches in the future.