The Walt Disney Company announced on Tuesday that all food and beverage products advertised, sponsored or promoted on the company's television, radio and online programming must meet the specific nutritional guidelines by 2015.
The programming outlets are: Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney and all Disney-owned online destinations. Some Disney stations, like ESPN, are not affected.
The standards follow guidelines at Disney’s theme parks and are aligned with US federal rules on calorie content, sugar and salt. Implementation on Disney’s children’s TV channels and web sites is scheduled by 2015.
In addition to its new advertising standards, Disney today introduced the “Mickey Check” tool, an icon that calls out nutritious food and menu items sold in stores, online, and at restaurants and food venues at its U.S. Parks and Resorts. By the end of 2012 the “Mickey Check” will appear on licensed foods products, on qualified recipes on Disney.com and Family.com, and on menus and select products at Disney’s Parks and Resorts.
Food that doesn’t meet Disney’s nutritional standards goes beyond candy bars and fast food meals. Capri Sun juice (too much sugar) and Oscar Mayer Lunchables (high sodium) won’t be advertised. Any cereal with 10 grams or more of sugar per serving is also off the air. A full meal can’t be more than 600 calories.
Michelle Obama, the First Lady and a campaigner for healthy eating, called Disney’s move, a “game-changer for the health of our children”. This was a major US company, a “global brand, that is changing the way it does business so children can lead healthier lives”, she said.
Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said the emotional connection between Disney’s characters and its young consumers gave it a “unique opportunity” to encourage healthier eating: “We’ve taken steps across our company to support better choices for families, and now we’re taking the next important step forward by setting new food advertising standards for kids.”