Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/GettyImages.
Maybe we'll be seeing New York City Mayor Bloomberg at Disneyland soon.
The Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday that it will become the first major media company to ban junk food-makers from running commercials for their products on Disney-owned outlets, including the ABC network and its cable affiliates, during programming aimed at children. The Associated Press explains, however, that the landmark change won't actually take effect until 2015 because of existing advertising deals.
Under the plan announced Tuesday, food advertisers for any programming targeted at children under 12 will have to meet a set of Disney-approved nutritional guidelines that emphasize limits on sodium, sugar, and saturated fat, and promote consumption of fruits and vegetables. Long-time advertisers like Kraft Lunchables, Capri Sun, and a host of other snack and fast food companies will be excluded by the regulations, which will go into effect in 2015 due to existing commitments.
First lady (and healthy-eating advocate) Michelle Obama was quick to celebrate Disney's new policy, calling it a "game changer" while expressing hope that other companies will follow suit, which, based on past experience, is likely. Just months after Mickey Mouse vanished off the Pop-Tart box in 2006 as part of Disney’s plan to curb endorsements of unhealthy foods, Nickelodeon and Discovery Kids followed suit, the New York Times reminds us.
Disney’s new sponsorship regulations are among a set of childhood health initiatives that will play out across the company’s many platforms. The sodium content of the 12 million kids meals sold annually at Disney’s theme parks will be reduced by 25 percent. Meanwhile, the plan will hit grocery store aisles in the form of "Mickey Checks" logos that will appear on Disney-licensed foods to signify that they meet the company’s new nutritional guidelines.
The White House estimates children see $1.6 billion worth of food and drink advertising annually, much of which is for foods low in nutritional value, CNN reports. According to Disney CEO Robert Iger, his company is at an advantage in fighting childhood obesity, explaining in a statement that the "emotional connection kids have to our characters and stories gives us a unique opportunity to continue to inspire and encourage them to lead healthier lives."