New General Mills cereals meet Disney nutritional guidelines

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

General Mills has introduced a new line of Disney branded
children's cereal that meets the entertainment giant's newly
established nutritional guidelines.

The new products, which feature Disney's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Disney Princess and Disney's Little Einsteins, are the first Disney branded ready-to-eat cereal products to launch since the group announced its food guidelines earlier this year. With a suggested retail price of $1.99, the cereals flag up their whole grain, vitamin D and calcium content. The products are expected to appear in grocery stores throughout the US next month. "This new cereal line leverages strong Disney equities that need no introduction while delivering everyday value at very attractive, competitive price points. They are high-quality cereals with a strong nutrition profile that parents will appreciate and popular Disney characters that kids will love," said Kymm Pollack, marketing director of General Mills' Big G cereal division. The Walt Disney company announced the implementation of new nutritional guidelines for its licensed products in October this year, a move likely to set the pace of food promotion to children. Based on the US government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Disney's new policy means that it will only use its name and characters on kid-focused products that meet specific guidelines, including limits on calories, fat, saturated fat and sugar. It also plans to serve more nutritious options and eliminate trans fats from meals served throughout its entertainment parks. The group's timetable for implementing its new policies is dictated by existing contracts, most of which will lapse in their current form within two years. However, Disney said it expects most of its licensed products and promotional tie-ins to meet the new guidelines by the end of 2008. These will implement a cap on calories that will deliver appropriate kid-sized portions. Added sugar will not exceed 10 percent of calories for main dishes and side dishes, and 25 percent of calories for snacks. Total fat will not exceed 30 percent of calories for main and side dishes and 35 percent for snacks. And saturated fat will not exceed 10 percent of calories for main dishes, side dishes and snacks. The guidelines, which were developed in cooperation with two child nutrition experts, will initially govern Disney's business partnerships and activities in the US, and will be adapted internationally over the next several years. The adoption of nutrition guidelines by Disney marks a major step in the crucial association of fun foods with a more balanced diet. But the entertainment firm has also taken other steps to improve kids' health. The group recently became part of a new task force designed to examine the link between TV commercials and the rising rate of childhood obesity. Made up of representatives from the food, television and advertising industries, the Joint Task Force on Child Obesity was established in response to mounting concerns over the impact of product marketing on American children's health. It plans to issue a report based on the work it will conduct, which will be designed to educate parents and encourage best practices for industry. According to a report issued in September by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), one third of American children are either obese or at risk for obesity. And the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that in the past quarter century, the proportion of overweight children aged 6-11 has doubled, while the number of overweight adolescents has tripled.

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