In the cloud-filled U.K., children are apparently getting less sunshine than ever before as they spend more time inside and less time playing outside.
Out of this new darkness, Kellogg Co. sees a marketing opportunity, with plans to fortify Rice Krispies, Coco Pops and other cereals in the U.K. with vitamin D, touting the addition of the "sunshine nutrient" as a way to combat rising incidents of rickets, a bone disorder caused by a lack of the vitamin.
The company announced the new initiative today, just as the nation prepares to turn its clocks back an hour on Sunday as daylight savings time expires. "With the clocks going back this weekend and reduced sunlight, it's important parents consider ways to boost their children's vitamin D intake," Kellogg said in a statement.
The company will boost its entire kids cereal line-up with vitamin D by the end of the year, heralding the change at vitamindawareness.com. Kellogg already put vitamin D in Corn Flakes, marking it with a brightly colored label on the top of each box, including a message that vitamin D "Helps to Build Strong Bones."
In its statement, Kellogg cited research showing a 140% increase in the number of British children under 10 admitted to the hospital with rickets in 2009 compared with 2001.
"Parents who are worried about the risks of sun exposure are failing to encourage their children to spend time outdoors in the sunlight with a third not getting enough sun exposure to give them sufficient vitamin D," Kellogg said, while citing health experts calling attention to the nation's rising vitamin D deficiency problem. "Children are also spending more time inside on the computer, with 29% playing outside less than twice a week."