- Published on Thursday, 21 June 2012 07:35
Submitted by Danielle Cantrel
In a shocking move, the Walt Disney Company has announced it is banning junk food ads from its television networks starting in 2015. The announcement was so unexpected that First Lady Michelle Obama called it a "game changer." She believes the change will send a message to the rest of the children's entertainment industry. Disney's decision is definitely indicative of the nation's thoughts and attitudes towards junk food and obesity. Junk food has been a staple of children's advertising for decades. Even TV programs from the 1950s had plenty of ads for sweet treats. For a network to actually ban these ads is shocking but certainly a move in a positive direction.
The negative impact of junk food on children's health has become very well-known in recent years. While almost everyone knows that sugary foods and drinks can cause cavities and make a trip for a routine cleaning into a filling, it turns out that tooth problems may be the least of the problems they cause. Studies show that childhood obesity rates are soaring as children are exposed to the double whammy of high sugar content and large portion sizes. Worse yet, people who develop obesity in childhood are likely to remain obese for most, if not all, of their lives.
The loss of Disney’s channels as advertising venues will surely affect the makers of foods that can be classified as “junk.” Affected channels include XD, Saturday morning shows on Disney-owned ABC stations, Radio Disney and any Disney sites aimed at young children. That’s a large amount of exposure that will disappear in 2015 if Disney sticks to its decision.
The junk food ad ban doesn't just affect things like candy bars and chips. Disney will be instituting strict rules on which foods can be advertised on its network. Examples include a limit on sodium and sugar content. Full meals must also be below 600 calories to make the cut. Disney will be watching out for companies that try to design just one or two offerings that meet the guidelines. They say they’ll examine all of the products in a food company's line before deciding to approve any ads from that company.
This advertising ban will probably be highly impactful, as children are much more likely to want a product if it’s connected with or endorsed by their favorite characters. By breaking the characters' connection to junk foods, Disney will be taking a lot of power out of the ads. If these same characters endorse healthy food it can help change kids outlook on healthy eating. Imagine today's toddler who won't remember Disney's junk food ads and associate the brand only with the dental care she learned as a child.
Decreasing children's desire for unhealthy foods will do far more than trying to lecture kids into making better choices. Disney's ban, along with other initiatives, may do a large amount of good for children who are still too young to consider how food affects their health. The earlier a child can learn about healthy ways of living, the better.
*Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net
ABOUT the Author:
Danielle, who blogs on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands, enjoys learning how to make meals and snacks just a little healthier for her family. Read her work at Cooks and Travel Books.