Disney to Cut Junk Food Ads on Kids' Television

CSPI Says Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network Should Follow Suit


Disney will no longer accept advertisements for many junk foods on its children's television and radio programming and web site, and will update the nutrition standards it applies when it considers licensing its characters and sponsorships on the Disney Channel.

"Disney's announcement is welcome news to parents and health experts concerned about childhood obesity and nutrition," said Center for Science in the Public Interest nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan. "This puts Disney ahead of the pack of media outlets and should be a wake-up call to Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network to do the same. As a nation, all companies should be working toward promoting only healthy food through all forms of child-directed media."

Sixteen food and beverage companies have agreed to limit junk food marketing through the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. That program has led to a modest decrease in unhealthy food marketing to children. From 2003 to 2009, the percentage of ads aimed at kids that were for unhealthy food decreased from 94 percent to 86 percent. CSPI urges companies to strengthen their nutrition standards, and says more companies, especially media companies and restaurants, should join the industry's self-regulatory program.

Companies have lobbied aggressively against the efforts of an Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children, a collaboration among the Federal Trade Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration. Those agencies were to finalize voluntary nutrition guidelines and definitions for food marketing to children, but Congress delayed the release. The industry self-regulatory program’s marketing standards limit ads for the worst junk foods, but Popsicles, imitation fruit snacks, and sugary cereals such as Cocoa Puffs are considered healthy enough to market to kids.

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