In an effort to address concerns about the role kids entertainment plays in the growing childhood obesity epidemic, Walt Disney Company announced new healthier standards regarding food advertising on Disney programming targeting kids and families. This amazing move makes Disney the first major media company to ban specific unhealthy advertising on their programming. Under Disney’s new standards, all food and beverage products advertised, sponsored, or promoted on Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, and Disney-owned online destinations oriented to families with younger children will be required to meet Disney’s nutrition guidelines by 2015. The new nutrition guidelines for products shown on Disney channels will be aligned with healthy federal standards, promote fruit and vegetable consumption and call for limiting calories and reducing saturated fat, sodium and sugar. “We’re proud of the impact we’ve had over the last six years,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company.  “We’ve taken steps across our company to support better choices for families, and now we’re taking the next important step forward by setting new food advertising standards for kids.  The emotional connection kids have to our characters and stories gives us a unique opportunity to continue to inspire and encourage them to lead healthier lives.

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Image by Flickr User whiteafrican

Michelle Obama, herself no stranger to healthy kid initiatives, praised Disney, saying, “This new initiative is truly a game changer for the health of our children. This is a major American company – a global brand – that is literally changing the way it does business so that our kids can lead healthier lives. 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?‘” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. With childhood (and adult) obesity rates skyrocketing and issues like Ronald McDonald showing up at schools to teach kids about healthy eating, America is a sinking ship when it comes to health. We need some major changes in the USA and organizations like the Campaign for A Commercial Free Childhood say that cutting icky, sugary, fattening kid food advertising can help. According to the New York Times, not everyone is on board with Disney’s plan and, “Food companies have vociferously fought government regulation on advertising,” and even Disney has acknowledged that they’ll most likely lose some advertising revenue. We applaud their efforts and appreciate Disney saying that the health benefits of healthy advertising for kids far outweigh any ad revenue they’ll lose.

Lead image by Flickr User craigwbrown