Disney to Junk Food Advertisers: So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Junk food begone!

My husband and I readily admit that our older daughter Petunia, 3, watches a bit too much TV. I work from home full time and watch our 9-month-old daughter Peony. Petunia is in preschool 3-4 days a week, and on the days she’s home, it’s almost always inevitable that some TV will be watched.

Our one saving grace is that she’s never seen live television. Everything she watches is on our cable system’s On Demand service, which means she never sees commercials. On the rare occasion that she’s seen one, she’s looked at it all wide-eyed and asks, “Ooooooh. What’s that?”, which confirms that we’d prefer she skips ads altogether.

However, if she were to start watching commercial TV, I know the first and likely only channel we’d let her watch: The Disney Channel, which just announced a ban on television commercials that don’t promote healthy eating habits.

I’ve never, ever been one to blame, say, McDonald’s for offering Happy Meals, or advertising them. I’m 100 percent aware that it’s my responsibility as a parent to teach my kids about making healthy choices and offer alternatives to processed fried chicken and chocolate milk. I also have the choice not to expose my kids to advertisements that promote food or activities of which I don’t approve. It’s not such a difficult task, which is why I never understand why people blame food or toy companies for marketing to their kids.

At the same time, although it’s not their job to parent the kids who watch their shows, to an extent I still blame television networks that accept money from advertisers who are completely at odds with the wellness of their primary audience. But it seems as if one network is finally standing up and taking responsiblity.

CBS News is reporting that The Walt Disney Company (Babble’s parent company) is taking a giant leap in the fight against childhood obesity by enacting several new regulations in order to promote healthy eating habits. According to CBS, the new regulations include:

  • Banning ads on Disney’s child-focused television channels (including ABC Saturday morning cartoons), radio stations and Web sites for foods that do not meet nutritional standards, which will be released later today.
  • Reducing the amount of sodium by 25 percent in children’s meals served at their theme parks
  • Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables sold in U.S. theme parks to 350 of 400 food venues by 2013
  • Creating public service announcements promoting exercise for kids and healthy eating habits
  • Using the Mickey Check logo on Disney-licensed food products that meet criteria for limited calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar

Although the ad restrictions won’t go into effect until 2015 because of “existing advertising agreements,” according to the Washington Post, they will be “enforced for any programming on a Disney platform that is intended for children 12 and under.”

Which means buh-bye to products like Capri Sun, sugary cereals and Lunchables, The New York Times reports. It’s not a perfect policy, as some food on the nutrition bubble will still be advertised, but it’s hard to deny it’s an excellent start.

Dr. Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, seemed skeptical when speaking with The New York Times that the move will be effective.

“Here comes Disney with yet another symbol, and it’s too early to say whether this will simply add to the chaos and confusion or actually help steer parents and kids as they shop,” she said.

It’s doubtful that parents will be affected in their shopping habits by the weeding out of certain commercials, but hopefully kids will stop clamoring for less healthy food as a result of less exposure to them.

What do you think of Disney’s move?

Photo credit: iStock

Article Posted 4 years Ago
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