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News - Walt Disney to Restrict Junk Food Ads

Jun/2012

15

Walt Disney to Restrict Junk Food Ads

The Walt Disney Company, in an effort to address concerns about entertainment’s role in childhood obesity, recently announced that all products advertised on its child-focused television channels, radio stations and Web sites must comply with a strict new set of nutritional standards.

The restrictions on ads extend to Saturday-morning cartoons on ABC stations owned by Disney. Under the new rules, products like Capri Sun drinks and Kraft Lunchables meals, both current Disney advertisers, along with a wide range of candy, sugared cereal and fast food, will no longer be acceptable advertising material.

The initiative, which Disney revealed at a Washington news conference with the first lady, Michelle Obama, stretches into other areas. For example, Disney will reduce the amount of sodium by 25 percent in the 12 million children’s meals served annually at its theme parks, and create what it calls fun public service announcements promoting child exercise and healthy eating.

Disney said that in adopting the new advertising standards it was largely following recommendations proposed last year by federal regulators. The suggestions were aimed at inducing the food industry to overhaul the way it marketed things like cereal, soda and snacks to children.

Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chairman, stated, “I feel strongly that companies in a position to help with solutions to childhood obesity should do just that, but this is also about smart business.”

Disney’s ad restrictions, which will not take effect until 2015 because of long-term contracts with advertisers, will apply to any programming aimed at children under 12, which includes popular live-action programs as well as cartoons.

These restrictions follow a long list of attempts by Disney to tighten advertising that may have effects on the nutritional habits of not only children, but parents as well.

 

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