Disney cuts junk from its ad diet
Mickey Mouse wants to help kids kick the junk food habit.
The Walt Disney Co. is announcing today that it plans to advertise only healthier foods to kids on its TV channels, radio station and website. Disney says it's the first major media company to set a standard for food advertising on kid-focused TV programming.
By 2015, all food and beverage products that are advertised, promoted or sponsored on the Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, Disney.com and Saturday morning programming for kids on ABC-owned stations (Disney owns ABC) will have to meet the company's nutrition criteria for limiting calories and reducing saturated fat, sodium and sugar.
The nutrition criteria were created by experts to reflect the government's dietary guidelines.
"We are committed to the well-being of kids and families," said Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of Disney.
In a statement, first lady Michelle Obama called the initiative "truly a game changer for the health of our children. 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."
Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer group, says Disney's nutrition guidelines will get rid of advertising for "the worst junk food -- candy, snack cakes, sugary drinks."
But the company will still be able to advertise "better-for-you versions of products that are not perfectly nutritious. There are still going to be SpaghettiOs and things like that in the mix."
As part of its latest changes, Disney is:
Introducing the Mickey Check, a symbol that food and beverage products can carry if they meet the company's nutrition standards.
Reducing the level of sodium by 25% in well-balanced kids' meals served at its parks by 2013 and introducing new kids' breakfast meals that meet the nutrition guidelines.
Expanding its offering of fruits and vegetables to 350 of 400 food venues in its domestic parks by 2013.
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