The Walt Disney Company has joined in the fight against childhood obesity. Since media can be a huge factor in how a child behaves, this well-known company has decided to ban all junk food advertisements from their TV channels, radio shows, and websites with the goal of promoting healthier lifestyles. Their hope is that by stopping these advertisements, they are taking the temptation of junk food away from kids and helping them make better choices for themselves.
All food and beverage advertisements that use the Disney networks to promote their product must now follow strict guidelines. They must adhere to federal recommendations regarding serving size, calories, and fat and sugar content. Any cereal with 10 or more grams of sugar per serving will not be advertised, as well as any meal that is more than 600 calories.
Advertisements that have already been pulled include those for Capri Sun juice because of high sugar content and Oscar Mayer Lunchables due to high amounts of sodium. In the future, even if a food chain has a healthy alternative to its not- so- health-friendly menu, Disney may not allow any ad space for that company. Agreements between Disney and food distributors that use their characters on packaging will be revoked if the products do not meet new guidelines.
Last year a group of people from the Federal Trade Commission and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention worked together to form guidelines for foods that are marketed to young people. The group found that the majority of calories children consumed on a daily basis were from foods such as pizza, cake, cookies, and soda drinks. In 2006 the food industry spent more than $1.6 billion to market products to children that were high in calories and sugar and contained little nutritional value.
The Disney Company plans to have all food advertisements that don’t make the requirements pulled off all of their networks by 2015. It is Disney’s hope that this healthy initiative not only reaches families across the world, but that other networks like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network follow suit.
In addition to removing advertisements for junk food from their programs, Disney is making efforts to dramatically improve the nutritional value of the foods offered at its theme parks. New menus will emphasize fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Disney does plan to keep some “celebratory food”—a.k.a. junk food – on the menu, but it will be featured less prominently.
What do you think? Is Disney making the right choice by banning all junk food advertisements? Is it a double standard to ban junk food ads and still allow some junk food to be sold at the company’s theme parks?