Disney to Curtail Junk Food Ads Aimed at Kids

Change will affect the media giant's child-focused TV channels, radio stations and websites

TUESDAY, June 5, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- A new strict set of nutritional standards is being introduced for all products advertised on the Walt Disney Company's child-focused television channels, radio stations and websites.

The company said its new advertising standards largely follow recommendations proposed last year by federal regulators, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Under the new rules, a wide range of fast foods, sugared cereal, candy, drinks and other products will no longer be acceptable advertising material for Disney.

In addition to the new advertising standards, Disney will reduce by 25 percent the amount of sodium in the 12 million children's meals served each year at its theme parks. The company also plans public service announcements encouraging exercise and healthy eating for children, the Times reported.

According to USA Today, by 2015, all foods and beverages advertised, promoted or sponsored on the Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, Disney.com and Saturday morning programming for children on ABC-owned stations will have to meet the new guidelines for limiting calories and reducing saturated fat, sodium and sugar. The Walt Disney Co. owns the ABC Network.

In response to Disney's announcement, Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said: "The Walt Disney Company is taking strides to help millions of children lead healthier lives. Selling and marketing healthier foods and beverages, and providing more information about those options, will help children and families make healthier choices.

"Disney has set a new bar that other companies and business leaders should strive to reach. The company's new policy goes beyond commitments made by other businesses and recommendations made by the federal government to help prevent childhood obesity," Lavizzo-Mourey added in a foundation news release.

Disney executives were to make the formal announcement Tuesday in Washington, D.C., where they will be joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, who has long campaigned for healthier lifestyles for America's children. In a statement, she said: "This new initiative is truly a game changer for the health of our children . . . With this new initiative, Disney is doing what no major media company has ever done before in the U.S. -- and what I hope every company will do going forward. When it comes to the ads they show and the food they sell, they are asking themselves one simple question: 'Is this good for our kids?'"

More information

To learn more about childhood obesity in America, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

SOURCES: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, news release, June 5, 2012; The New York Times; USA Today
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