The Walt Disney Company’s new standards for advertising to children put the media outlet ahead of the pack, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) – and the move should encourage others to follow suit.
The company announced its initiative at a press conference attended by First Lady Michelle Obama last week, saying it would no longer accept advertisements for certain foods on its children’s television channels, radio programming and website unless they adhere to nutrition standards designed to adhere to federal standards. By 2015, all foods advertised on Disney programming to children under 12 will have to promote fruit and vegetable consumption and call for limiting calories and reducing saturated fat, sodium, and sugar, the company said.
CSPI nutrition policy director Margo Wootan said the move was a welcome one for those concerned with childhood nutrition and obesity.
"This puts Disney ahead of the pack of media outlets and should be a wake-up call to Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network to do the same,” she said. “As a nation, all companies should be working toward promoting only healthy food through all forms of child-directed media."
The food and beverage industry developed a self-regulatory scheme, Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), in 2006, under which companies pledge to “shift the mix of advertising messaging directed at children to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthier lifestyles”. A review published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine last year found that food and beverage companies had made ‘moderate progress’ since then – but entertainment companies had only made limited progress.
Ahead of Disney’s announcement, Michelle Obama said in a statement: “With this new initiative, Disney is doing what no major media company has ever done before in the US – and what I hope every company will do going forward. When it comes to the ads they show and the food they sell, they are asking themselves one simple question: ‘Is this good for our kids?’”
Disney’s nutrition criteria for foods marketed to children were first designed in 2006. The updated version is available to download here .