Disney to ban junk food ads aimed at kids

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 11:53am

The Walt Disney Co. says it will start to require nutritional standards for the food advertisements on its networks aimed at children.

CEO Robert Iger announced the new policy at an appearance with first lady Michelle Obama in Washington D.C. It will apply to Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, and Disney-owned online sites oriented to families It will take effect by 2015.

The policy will not apply to ads on adult-targeted Disney networks, such as the various ESPN sports networks, which are the major profit driver at the media conglomerate.

Michelle Obama has been leading a national campaign for healthier diets. Her push includes new school lunch guidelines and a physical exercise program called "Let's Move" aimed at reducing childhood obesity.

While the Disney initiative is limited to ads aimed at children, the first lady praised the move and said she hoped other media companies would follow suit.

"This new initiative is truly a game changer for the health of our children. This is a major American company -- a global brand -- that is literally changing the way it does business so that our kids can lead healthier lives," she said. "When it comes to the ads they show and the food they sell, they are asking themselves one simple question: 'Is this good for our kids?'"

The nutrition guidelines are aligned to federal standards to promote fruit and vegetable consumption, and limit calories and saturated fat, sodium, and sugar in the products being advertised.

According to the White House, American children see an estimated $1.6 billion a year worth of food and beverage marketing, and many of those ads are for food that are high in calories and sugar, but low in nutrition.

Shares of Disney were little changed in Tuesday trading.

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