Disney Networks To Stop Airing Junk Food Ads To Kids

With growing public and regulatory interest in how not-exactly-healthy foods are advertised and marketed toward children, the Walt Disney Company is announcing today that any foodstuffs advertised during kid-focused TV programming on its many channels will have to meet the company’s nutritional standards.

The new rules, which the company says are merely the adoption of suggested government guidelines from last year, would apply to ads that air on Disney-owned channels during programming aimed at children younger than 12 years old.

While the Disney Channel itself doesn’t exactly run standard TV ads, the sponsorships and promotions run on the channel will meet the same standards as the company’s ad-supported channels. This includes ABC, which would have to follow the nutritional guidelines for ads running during its Saturday morning cartoon block, where some of us first learned about the wonderful world of sugary cereal ads.

Now, cereals that advertise during these shows will need to have less than 10g of sugar per serving.

While Disney admits it will initially lose some revenue as it weeds out advertisers who don’t meet the new standards, company chairman Robert Iger clarifies, “This is not altruistic. This is about smart business,” pointing out that Disney has sold around two billion Disney-branded servings of healthier food since 2006.

The company is also set to release more Disney-licensed “Mickey Check” products into supermarkets. These items will meet the new standards for calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar.

Promoting Nutrition, Disney to Restrict Junk-Food Ads [NY Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Vox Republica says:

    Pessimist/realist me: “That’s Disney, commensurate marketers.”

    Wide-eyed optimist me: “Maybe somebody at Disney really cares about kids’ health.”

    Pessimist/realist me: “If they do, it’s only because they don’t want their theme parks clogged with scooter-driving diabetics.”

    Wide-eyed optimist me: “I need a drink.”

  2. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    So, as a producer of Sugar Coated Sugar Bombs, 100 % real sugar, nothing else, my recommeded serving size is now 9.9 grams.

    Disney, please take my money and make kids want my stuff.

  3. aristan says:

    A Mickey Check is the only way to make sure you’re not slipped a Mickey.


    (Sorry, that was the first thought that entered my head when I heard “mickey check”)

  4. nbs2 says:

    So Disney made a decision to do something that could generally be viewed as positive, found a compelling business reason to do so, and admitted that they are doing the positive thing because of the business case (and not the altruism) – they are pleasing shareholders while accomplishing something good.

    I’m not seeing any downside.

    • SavijMuhdrox says:

      i think the downside here is that Disney is doing this because tv commercials are too ‘powerful’.

      Disney knows that once a child has a seen a commercial for Diabeti-O’s; its virtually impossible to prevent him/her from procuring said product.. right parents?

      • zandar says:

        Not necessarily. I try to minimize my kids’ exposure to advertising, but it does come up, we all make jokes about them. I’ve been picking apart the silly dialogue and fake looking food since before they were infants. I think I accidentally instilled natural skepticism in them. Anyway, they all laugh at commercials which overreach in their attempt to appeal to kids. They seem to think it’s beneath them.

        Of course, there is the occasionally very sophisticated ad that makes us all drool for IPads or whatever. But at least my kids aren’t mute drones intending to make good on every command given to them by advertising overlords.

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just give your kid an entire small apple and throw out what wasn’t eaten rather that paying Disney to cut apples for you, treat it so it doesn’t turn brown, package it in plastic wrap, put the wraps in a hard shell plastic container, put those containers in boxes and then ship them across the country?

    • Vox Republica says:

      Yeah, but how am I supposed to know that my apple is personally endorsed by Buzz Lightyear? The fight against the evil Emperor Zurg is far too important to risk eating second-rate Honeycrisps or Jonagolds.

    • momtimestwo says:

      Normally I would say yes! But I can’t cut up an apple and put it in my 7 year olds lunch and not have it brown by lunch time, and then he won’t eat it. He can’t eat a whole apple because his front baby teeth fell out and the adult teeth aren’t quite in yet. And he will eat the packaged apple slices because they aren’t brown. Luckily this is only until his front teeth come in. My daughter gets a whole apple:)

      • Barry Bunch O'Krunch says:

        If you put the slices in a little tub with some lemon juice, the apples should keep from browning. I’ve done this and had apple slices last a few days in the fridge with only a few little spots appearing.

        Also, my girlfriend’s mother apparently used to slice up apples for her school lunch and dump cinnamon on them so she wouldn’t notice they’d turned brown.

        • PunditGuy says:

          You can apparently blanch the apple slices to keep them from browningl. Might soften them a bit, but it sounds like that wouldn’t be a problem in this case.

        • CubeRat says:

          Pineapple juice also works.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        How did 7 year olds eat apples before Disney came out with pre-cut apples?

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    10g or sugar or less per serving?

    Just change the serving size.

    • KatieNeptune says:

      I thought serving size was determined by national standards, eg a 20 oz bottle of soda is 2.5 servings because it’s 2 cups 4 ozs, even though most people drink the whole thing?

  7. Gorbachev says:

    Will they also stop airing junk to children?

  8. thrashanddestroy says:

    Doesn’t really help the fact that the grocery aisles are lined with product directly aimed at children, most of which is terrible for them. Despite that, the bottom line is that kids aren’t buying this stuff, parents are.

    Either don’t take your kids shopping with you or don’t cave into their whining and crying when they demand Cinnamon Covered Chocolate Sugar Puffs with the giant cartoon beaver pimping a free toy inside every box. You know, grow a pair and be a freaking parent.

    That said, I miss the hell out of the 1989 Ninja Turtle cereal; basically Chex blasted in sugar with Lucky Charms marshmallows in vaguely Ninja Turtley shapes.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Ironically I haven’t seen a “free toy in box” in years….

      They have had book promotions, but I haven’t seen a real toy in the box promotion in years. The last one I remember is the Pokemon stuff around year 2000, they even had figures in pop tart boxes!

  9. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    I am wondering if they are going to charge more for these “Mickey Check” products…

  10. robnich says:

    I find the Apple Slices product to be incredibly irresponsible and stupid. Apples are packages by nature in long-lasting, portable skin. The things last months with no refrigeration. What kind of asshats would actually take such a thing, slice it up, and then have to package it in some kind of acid to keep it from browning, and then wrap it in plastic? The stores ALREADY HAD apples.