Disney To Marketers: Shape Up

Effort To Stem Criticisms About Entertainment's Role In Childhood Obesity

Shape UpIn an effort to stem criticisms about entertainment's role in childhood obesity, The Walt Disney Company announced today that it will only allow advertising throughout its media outlets that meets strict nutritional standards. Disney plans to formally announce the new initiative and detail the nutritional standards at a Washington news conference today with first lady Michelle Obama. Ultimately, Disney said that products with high sugar, fat or calorie contents will not be allowed to be advertised on its television channels, radio stations or websites.

In addressing why his company decided to apply new standards to the food-based advertising that it accepts, Robert A. Iger, Disney's chairman, said he believes companies should be helping to solve the obesity epidemic. "Companies in a position to help with solutions to childhood obesity should do just that," Iger said. “This is not altruistic. This is about smart business."

Disney said that in adopting the new advertising standards, it was largely following nutritional recommendations proposed last year by federal regulators. The suggestions were aimed at inducing the food industry to overhaul the way it marketed things like cereal, soda and snacks to children. Disney said that the newly-announced ad restrictions will apply to any programming targeted to children aged less than 12. The company said that it will also reduce the amount of sodium by 25 percent in the meals served to kids at its theme parks, and create public service announcements promoting child exercise and healthy eating.