Disney Bans Junk Food Ads - A Whole New World or Same Old Song?

Media outlets cover the debate on whether voluntary initiatives by corporations go far enough.

Last week Walt Disney Company, with First Lady Michelle Obama, announced plans to eliminate television advertisements for unhealthy meals, drinks and snacks aimed at children under the age of 12.  Currently, the food and beverage industry spends $2 billion annually in advertising targeting children; fast food companies spend over $5 billion marketing to children. Guidelines set out by Disney executives, will require that food products that advertise or are sponsored on the Disney Channel comply with nutritional guidelines that place limits on salt, sugar and fat levels, and overall calories. 

Ms Obama, whose “Let’s Move” campaign has been advocating for healthier food initiatives and policies across the country, called this a “game-changer” and has expressed hope that other major media companies will follow suit. But grassroots organizations and healthy community advocates say the problem goes beyond advertising, and maintain that only government intervention can completely ensure that we are truly moving in the right direction.

Makani Themba, Director of Communities Creating Healthy Environments (CCHE) tells Public News Service of Disney’s plans, "The most important thing about this is that Disney is admitting what communities have known forever: Junk food marketing is bad for kids. It's unhealthy, and companies should stop it."

Themba later goes on to add, "But as important as the First Lady's leadership has been on this issue and we appreciate it - our children's health can't be only in the hands of one company's change—we need policymakers to step up and make sure kids are protected.  Government has an important role to play."  CCHE is a national initiative to invest in local communities to implement better access to healthier food choices and safer places for families to play and exercise.

CCHE partners across the country are working on promising food and activity related policies that have been developed in local communities.  Advocates are hopeful that the step Disney has taken will encourage local policy makers to focus on serving the public interest by passing legislation that promotes healthy communities for families, and children.


Communities Creating Healthy Environments is a national capacity-building initiative to support diverse, community-based organizations and indigenous groups with proven track records in developing and organizing for effective, culturally competent policy initiatives that address the root causes of childhood obesity at the local level.