No More Junk Food Ads, Disney Says
Kid shows on Disney's networks will no longer air junk-food ads, the company announced on Tuesday.
The Walt Disney Co. said that its TV channels, radio stations and websites intended for children will no longer show advertisements for junk-food, sugary cereals and other products that don't meet the company's guidelines, which include lower calories and reduced saturated fats and sodium. The ban affects the Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, Disney.com and Saturday morning programming for kids on ABC and other stations it owns.
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"Parents can be confident that foods associated with Disney characters or advertised on Disney platforms meet our new, healthier nutrition guidelines," Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of Disney said, according to USA Today.
The company said it is working with advertisers to reformulate products so they can air during children's programming.
Many nutrition experts applauded the decision, saying more companies need to take responsibility for what they air.
"This is landmark, because a major media company is taking responsibility for what food they advertise to children," Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington D.C.-based consumer group, told USA Today. "This should be a real wake-up call to Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network to do the same."
The company will also start putting a "Mickey Check" seal of approval on foods in grocery stores and in its parks that meet their guidelines.
"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," Iger said in a statement.
First Lady Michello Obama called the move "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, according to the Los Angeles Times.
But simply removing junk-food advertisements won't make kids exercise, which is what's necessary to stop the obesity epidemic, according to Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital.
"Elimination of junk-food advertisements will not make television viewing a physically healthy activity," he told the LA Times. "But elimination of advertisements will substantially reduce the harm of television viewing in childhood."
The ban will go into effect in 2015.
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