June 6, 2012 in Business

Commercial choices slimmer

Programs, websites for kids won’t run unhealthy food ads
Candice Choi And J.M. Hirsch Associated Press
Associated Press photo

A package of Disney’s sliced sweet apples is shown with other Disney food products during a news conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C., where first lady Michelle Obama and Walt Disney Co. announced that Disney will become the first major media company to introduce new standards for food advertising on programming targeting kids and families.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – There won’t be any more candy, sugar cereal or fast food on TV with the morning cartoons.

The Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday became the first major media company to ban ads for junk food on its television channels, radio stations and websites, hoping to stop kids from eating badly by taking the temptation away.

First lady Michelle Obama called it a “game changer” that is sure to send a message to the rest of the children’s entertainment industry.

The 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 snacks (high sodium) won’t be advertised. Any cereal with more than 10 grams of sugar per serving is also off the air. A full meal can’t be more than 600 calories.

Disney’s rules – which won’t take effect until 2015 – follow a controversial proposal in New York to take drinks over 16 ounces out of convenience stores, movie theaters and restaurants, removing choices to try and influence behavior.

Disney declined to say how much revenue it stands to lose from banning unhealthy food. CEO Bob Iger said there might be a short-term reduction in advertising revenue, but he hopes that companies will eventually adjust and create new products that meet the standards.

The ban would apply to TV channels such is Disney XD, children’s programming on the ABC network, Radio Disney and Disney-owned websites aimed at families with young children. The company’s Disney Channel has sponsorships but does not run ads.

Kraft said it welcomed Disney’s decision, noting that it advertises very few brands to children under age 12.

Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said that while some snack foods of limited nutritional value may still be advertised, the worst of the junk foods will be eliminated under the new policy.

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