Disney announces nutritional standards for food ads

To glowing reports and near universal praise, the Walt Disney company announced new nutrition standards for food products targeted at children and advertised on its children directed media.

ABC World News reported, “Michelle Obama appeared today with a CEO of our parent company, Disney, because Disney decided to do something historic to help fight childhood obesity.”

ABC added, “The Walt Disney Company announced it will no longer run junk food ads on its kids TV networks and radio programs. First Lady Michelle Obama calls the move a game changer.”

Ninan continued, “The new guidelines mean food products advertised within Disney children’s programming must meet strict nutritional standards on calories, portion size, sodium, sugar and saturated fat.”

The New York Times reports on the front of its business section, “Disney said that in adopting the new advertising standards it was largely following recommendations proposed last year by federal regulators.”

The company “will also introduce what it calls Mickey Check in grocery store aisles: Disney-licensed products that meet criteria for limited calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar can display a logo – Mickey Mouse ears and a check mark – on their packaging.”

The story also notes that the standards would affect only a small fraction of the “$950 million” spent “annually on television tailored to children under 12.”

The Wall Street Journal reports on the announcement adding that the new rules are applicable to Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, other websites and Saturday-morning ABC broadcasts. It is pointed out that the Disney Channel does not run product ads. The regulations, had they been in effect in 2011 would have affected about $7.2 million in advertising or about one-one thousandth of Disney’s over $7 billion in annual advertising revenue.

The Los Angeles Times reports, “First Lady Michelle Obama, who has made fighting the childhood obesity epidemic and promoting healthful eating hallmarks of her time in the White House, praised Disney’s initiative Tuesday during a news conference at the Newseum in Washington, DC.”

Obama said, “For years, people told us that no matter what we did to get our kids to eat well and exercise, we would never solve our childhood obesity crisis until companies changed the way that they sell food to our children. We all know the conventional wisdom about that. …. Today, Disney has turned that conventional wisdom on its head.”

USA Today reports, “The nutrition criteria were created by experts to reflect the government’s dietary guidelines.”

Disney CEO Robert Iger said, “Parents can be confident that foods associated with Disney characters or advertised on Disney platforms meet our new, healthier nutrition guidelines.”

And “Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, says Disney is making this move ‘at perhaps some peril to their revenues, so that’s all the more reason why we should commend them. These self-imposed restrictions will be good for kids and empower parents.'”

The AP reports, “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.”

In response, “Aviva Must, chairwoman of the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts School of Medicine, said Disney could succeed where the government has made little progress.”

And “Kraft said it welcomed Disney’s decision, noting that it advertises very few brands to children under age 12.” Though Reuters says that Kraft’s Oscar Mayer Lunchables were listed as among current products that would not meet the new standards.

Bloomberg News reports Walt Disney Co. announced at an event with first lady Michelle Obama that it will require that by 2015 “that food and beverage advertising to kids on its TV networks and radio stations meet new nutritional standards” that follow federal recommendations.

In a statement, the company said the standards “are designed to promote fruits and vegetables, limit calories, and curb the intake of saturated fat, salt and sugar.”

Disney CEO Robert Iger predicted that the “assurance that Disney-branded products are healthy will ultimately increase sales.”

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