You might notice something new in the next few years as you watch Disney programs: Starting in 2015, there won't be any candy, sugary-cereal or fast-food commercials aimed at kids.
The Walt Disney Company on Tuesday became the first major media company to ban ads for junk food on its TV channels, radio stations and websites. It hopes this will stop kids from making poor food choices.
First Lady Michelle Obama called it a “game changer” that is sure to send a message to the rest of the children’s-entertainment industry. “Just a few years ago, if you had told me or any other mom or dad in America that our kids wouldn’t see a single ad for junk food while they watched their favorite cartoons on a major TV network, we wouldn’t have believed you,” said the First Lady, who heads a campaign to help stop child obesity.
The ban would apply to Disney XD and Saturday-morning children’s programming on Disney-owned ABC stations, as well as Radio Disney and Disney-owned websites aimed at families with young children. In addition, Disney plans to make changes to its kids’ menus at theme parks and resorts. Fast-food options will be replaced with healthier choices, such as smoothies, apples, vegetables and yogurt.
In addition to candy bars and fast-food meals, other foods that don’t meet Disney’s nutritional standards will be banned from the company’s kid-targeted media. Any cereal with 10 grams or more of sugar per serving will be off the air. There will be no ads for full meals of more than 600 calories. Juices with high levels of sugar and foods with too much sodium will also be pulled.
Even though many fast-food chains and food companies offer healthier options, like apples and salads, Disney said it could still deny the companies’ ads. Leslie Goodman, Disney’s senior vice president of corporate citizenship, said a company that wants to advertise will need to show that it offers a range of healthy options.
Disney isn’t the only one pushing away unhealthy foods. Last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban on drinks over 16 ounces sold in movie theaters, restaurants and convenience stores in the Big Apple. He says large, sugary drinks are partly to blame for obesity.
Getting rid of junk-food ads could make it easier to keep a family on a healthy diet, says Nadine Haskell, a mother of two sons, 8 and 11, from Columbus, Ohio. “If they see a commercial on TV, then the next time we go to the grocery store they'll say they want to try it,” said Haskell.