Kidscape, the children's charity which campaigns against bullying, said it received nearly 40 complaints from parents who said they felt the advert exploited their insecurities and those of children who had suffered or feared being bullied.
The Advertising Standards Authority received eight complaints about the advertisement and ruled yesterday that Kellogg's had breached the ASA's guidelines. It said there was no evidence that being overweight was one of the commonest reasons for bullying.
The advertisement showed a picture of an overweight schoolboy above the quote: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names could really hurt me". Underneath was the claim: "One of the most common causes of bullying in school is being fat. Of course, a breakfast cereal like Kellogg's can't solve complex weight problems but in its own small way it can really help".
Kellogg's said yesterday it had received the support of the Parents and Children Unite, a counselling organisation for bullies, children and their parents.