I could come up with a great way to start this post, but Walt Disney Co. did a bang-up job with its own press release so I’ll let it tell its own story:
Building on its landmark nutrition guidelines established in 2006, The Walt Disney Company [on June 5] became the first major media company to introduce new standards for food advertising on programming targeting kids and families. This significant undertaking marks the latest step in Disney’s partnership with parents to inspire kids to lead healthier lifestyles.
According to the release, any company that wants to advertise, sponsor, or promote its wares on TV, radio, or online (including the Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, and Disney-owned, kid-targeted online destinations) will be “required by 2015 to meet Disney’s nutrition guidelines.” Disney says those guidelines are similar to the U.S. government’s, designed to increase fruit and veggie consumption and limit calories and saturated fats, sugars, and sodium.
Also part of yesterday’s announcement: A new Mickey Check tool that will let parents and kids know if a food choice in its parks and that it licenses its brands to are considered healthy under the new standards. From the release: “By the end of 2012 the “Mickey Check” will appear on licensed foods products, on qualified recipes on Disney.com and Family.com, and on menus and select products at Disney’s Parks and Resorts.”
While this is great, I think they need to update Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living program announced in 2006 — what the new advertising announcement is based upon. Honestly, I love the idea behind the nutrition criteria, but I think they need to take it a bit further. (Check it out here.)
Basically, Disney guidelines ask does the food offering:
• contribute to a nutritious diet? Is it comprised of fruits, vegetables, whole grain, low fat dairy, or lean protein?
• encourage kid-appropriate portions? Basically, are we feeding kids too much? Are meals less than 600 calories? Are snacks less than 150 calories?
• limit ‘nutrients to avoid’? So does it contain excessive amounts of sodium, sugar, saturated fat, or trans fat?
As someone who goes to Disney often, I was pretty happy with the offerings that my kids got with their meals. I loved that they could eat grapes and raw carrots at every meal, and that they could have a turkey sandwich for lunch. However, I think Disney falls short by not offering (at least as far as I could see during my last trip) more grilled options. My kids eat turkey sandwiches a lot when we’re there. They are not into mac and cheese or pizza.
I’d also like to see them get rid of the licensed candy and food novelties that not only have tons of food coloring but are more often than not made in China. A girl can wish, right? We’re making our annual trip to the Mouse this fall. I’ll let you know how this new advertising program is put into effect. (And whether or not they take my suggestions into account.)