Today the Walt Disney Company (which owns Babble.com), joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, announced that they’ll be restricting junk food ads across their networks, and offering more healthful kids’ foods option at their theme parks. According to The New York Times, Disney will be enforcing strict nutritional guidelines for advertising on its television, radio, and web outlets, starting in 2015. The initiative will bar ads for a wide range of unhealthy foods for kids, and includes sugary drinks, sugary cereals, candy, fast food, and other junk food. The guidelines that Disney put in place are largely in line with voluntary federal guidelines the FDA issued last year.
This move is part of a larger effort by Disney to break into the growing market of healthier foods for kids, and is happening in conjunction with a new line of foods featuring a “Mickey Check” which identifies and brands foods that meet certain nutritional standards.
As a mom, I view this is as a welcome change. My oldest daughter is starting to age into commercial television, and I am concerned about the amount of junk food marketed to her at 4 years old. I hope that this move by Disney will put added pressure on other children’s networks and media outlets to follow suit. Children are especially vulnerable to advertising, and so I’m happy to see concrete steps to protect them being taken. The obesity epidemic is especially problematic among children, for whom, for instance, conventional Type-2 diabetes treatments may not be effective. While parents ultimately have decision-making power over what their children eat, it’s clear that in many cases children are making choices about what to eat before they are ready to make good decisions. After all, if advertising junk food to children didn’t work, companies wouldn’t spend all that money on it.
While this move is a step in the right direction, it’s also important to discuss advertising with your kids, and to discuss the influence advertising can have on them. It’s also important for kids to understand the food around them and to get them involved in making healthier eating choices. While there’s no one solution to our country’s childhood nutrition crisis, incremental changes like this one are a great way to get on the right track.
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