The Disney Co. announced June 5 it will ban ads for unhealthy foods from its TV channels and other outlets by 2015.

First lady Michelle Obama joined Disney CEO Robert Iger at the Newseum in the District to announce the program.

“Our kids are constantly bombarded with sophisticated messages designed to sell them foods that simply aren’t good for them,” Obama said, noting that children see an estimated $1.6 billion dollars worth of food and beverage marketing each year. “As parents, we know that whatever is on TV is what our kids are going to want.”

Part of the program is the “Mickey Check,” a new nutrition label that will appear on Disney-licensed products in grocery stores across the country.

“When kids point to their favorite characters on the shelf and moms see the Mickey Check label on the box, they can say ‘yes’ and actually feel good about it because they know its one of the healthier options available,” Iger said.

Obama said the new program meshes with her Let’s Move initiative launched in 2010. The program helps children live healthier lives and seeks to reduce the number of overweight and obese children.

The Disney Magic of Healthy Living initiative will apply to all food and beverage products advertised or sponsored on Disney programming. By 2015 advertised products will need to meet Disney’s nutritional guidelines.

Food ads appearing on Disney programming on the Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney and Disney U.S. Parks and Resorts will be required to include more fruits and vegetables while reducing fats, sodium and sugar.

“This new initiative is truly a game changer for the health of our children,” Obama said. “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. … 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?’”

In 2006, U.S. Disney Parks and Resorts began selling well-balanced kid’s meals that automatically come with healthy sides and drinks such as carrots and low-fat milk, which parents may decline.

The company said in a statement that, out of 12 million children served at its parks and resorts, parents chose healthy meals for children six out of 10 times.

“We are proud of the impact we’ve had over the last six years,” Iger said. “We’ve taken steps across our company to support better choices for families, and now we’re taking the new important step by setting new food advertising standards for kid.”

Kathryn Kenny

SHF Wire