The Walt Disney Company has announced that by 2015 all of its networks, including The Disney Channel and Disney Junior, will stop advertising foods and beverages that “don’t meet [the company’s] nutrition guidelines.” It’s a surprising announcement considering Disney’s merchandise can be found in McDonald’s Happy Meals, but it is all part of the media giant’s efforts to tackle childhood obesity.

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The move will no doubt be a relief some parents and amuse a generation whogrew up on adverts that featured assorted Disney characters drinking soda. The plan has already won the support of Michelle Obama, who described it as a “game-changer”.

It is estimated that currently the ‘junk food’ market spends about a $1 billion a year on commercials directed at children under 12 years. Disney have now decreed however that any products with “10 grams or more of sugar per serving or a full meal with more than 600 calories” would not be advertised. The same goes for high-sugar drinks. While Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger has so far declined to comment on which specific products don’t meet Disney’s news standards, he did add that there are “a lot.”

“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.”

It is a bold move by the House of Mouse to alienate major advertisers, but while Iger has reassured stockholders that any dip will be momentary. It will be interesting to see how long it takes health food companies to rush in and pick up the slack. Either way, it is a massive victory in the US’s war on obesity, where it is estimated a third of children are overweight.

+ Walt Disney Company

viaBusiness Week

Lead image:, Public Domain Photos