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The new food labeling campaign called Smart Choices features a green check mark label designed to alert shoppers to healthier options on the supermarket shelves.

Well, guess what? Some of those choices aren’t so smart, after all. Moms and nutritionists alike may be surprised to learn that sugar-loaded cereals like Fruit Loops and Cocoa Krispies are included in the products that have earned the Smart Choices symbol.

Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices board said the program’s criteria were based on government dietary guidelines and widely accepted nutritional standards. But Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health says “It’s a blatant failure of this system and it makes it, I’m afraid, not credible.”

Battle of the experts? I think not. Use your common sense and choose breakfast cereals that contain less than 9 grams of sugar per serving (Fruit Loops has 12g) and at least 4 g of fiber. When evaluating other foods, look for fat calories that equal less than 30% of the total and at least 3g of dietary fiber, as well as a decent amount of protein.

Be skeptical and ignore that cute green check until you’ve proven to yourself that it’s really smart.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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