Walt Disney Co. says it will not allow ads for
unhealthful food and drinks in its children's
programming. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
/ June 5, 2012)
it’s taking ads for junk food off its children’s
The Walt Disney Co.on
Tuesday announced new guidelines for TV, radio and
website programming at an appearance in Washington with
First LadyMichelle Obama.
Critics who have for years complained about fatty,
sugary food and beverage ads aimed at kids praised the
And, they said, it’s smart: As a company that positions
itself as family-friendly, Disney can be seen as looking
out for kids’ health.
Obama, who has made improved children’s health a central
focus of her work, called Disney’s plan a "game changer."
"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," she said.
“This is the smart way to run a healthy kingdom. This will
help advertisers step up their game and make the
commercials for healthier food even more compelling,” said
Brian Wansink, a professor at Cornell University’s Charles
H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.
“Commercials and advertising help keep down the cost of
programming. Watching them is the price we pay to have free
or inexpensive programs. If Disney can encourage healthier
advertising without losing advertisers, it will be doing a
great service to distracted parents. Giving a Disney stamp
of approval helps parents, and it can help smart
advertisers with the ‘health halo’ it gives them.”
The guidelines cover Disney channels and radio stations,
websites and Saturday morning cartoons on stations that
Disney owns, for ads aimed at children younger than 12.
Harried parents might be relieved: A range of sweetened
cereals, fast food and other items will not make the cut.
“Disney’s announcement is welcome news to parents and
health experts concerned aboutchildhood obesityand
nutrition,” said Margo Wootan, the nutrition policy
director at the advocacy organization Center for Science
in the Public Interest.
“This puts Disney ahead of the pack of media outlets and
should be a wake-up call toNickelodeonandCartoon Networkto do
the same,” she said in a statement.
Sixteen food and beverage companies have agreed to limit
junk food marketing through the Children's Food and
Beverage Advertising Initiative, CSPI said. From 2003
to 2009, it said, ads aimed at kids for unhealthful food
fell from 94% to 86%.
The chorus to do something about obesity in this country
gets louder all the time. New York City MayorMichael R. Bloomberglast
week announced a plan to restrict the sale of supersized
Disney’s guidelines are aligned with federal dietary
recommendations and take effect in 2015, Disney said.
The Associated Press reported that kids' meals offered by
traditional fast-food chains may not meet the new
guidelines, even those with more healthful side orders,
says Leslie Goodman, Disney's senior vice president of
corporate citizenship. That's because Disney will be
assessing the restaurant's broader offerings in deciding
whether to approve ads.
For example, a complete meal under Disney's guidelines
could have no more than 600 calories and a side dish no
more than 200 calories.
Bob Iger, the chairman and CEO of Disney, said there could
be a short-term reduction in advertising revenue, AP
The food industry has opposed government regulations of
advertising, and new products arrive on shelves every week
that show companies’ efforts to appeal with sugar-free or
high-fiber or low-fat alternatives to snacks and other
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
Disney also introduced the “Mickey Check” icon that
will appear on food and menu items sold in stores, online
and at its U.S. parks.