Disney Vows to Fight Childhood Obesity
Posted by The Baby News
Saturday morning cartoons are going to be sugar, fat and cupcake-free on Disney-owned ABC TV stations, and visitors at Disneyland will find grapes rather than candy.
It's part of a new initiative Disney announced - with First Lady Michelle Obama onstage - to fight childhood obesity. The company vowed to trim ads for fattening foods from its radio and TV stations starting in 2015 - which means, the LA Times observed, that Disney must kick Capri Sun drinks and Kraft Lunchables off its air. But Disney says it is willing to lose some advertisers to help combat the fat epidemic. Experts have been saying for years that however much parents may want their kids to eat healthy, junk-food ads targeted at young children will get in the way.
Disney will limit on-air food promotions targeted at kids to those foods that contain less than 10 grams of sugar per serving, which is still fairly high, according to Margo G. Wootan at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Quoted in the NY Times, Wootan says, “This limits the marketing of the worst junk foods, but it won’t mean you’re only going to see ads for apples, bananas and oranges, either."
Disney theme park food will also be healthier. Carts loaded with packets of grapes, mango chunks and pineapple spears are replacing candy machines. Sugar-free lemonade, juice and water will replace sugary soft drinks. Sodium in children's meals at Disney parks will be cut 25%.
And in what some critics say looks like an effrt by Disney to "own" healthy, the company is introducing a system called Mickey Check in grocery stores. Disney-licensed products that meet criteria on calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar will be permitted to display a Mickey-themed logo on their packaging.
Disney's efforts to fight childhood obesity got started on a bad footing this March with an Epcot Center exhibit featuring slender, attractive, cartoon Habit Heroes eating healthy foods, while the obese villains were named Lead Bottom and Glutton. The company closed the display after one month. Critics complained the display used shame to combat fat, and a prominent weight loss clinic said the creepy characters reinforced stereotypes of overweight people.
This time, the message is positive. The Mickey Check logo will send the message, “Good For You — Fun Too!”
Do you think Disney's initiative will help you keep your kid eating healthy?
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