Can Disney help tackle childhood obesity? In the US they think it can. In a recent announcement, the company has said it will ban junk food ads on their TV, radio and online programmes.
Disney says the new rules, coming into effect in 2015, will set new nutrition standards in the US. And with around three in ten children overweight or obese, both here and in the US, something definitely needs to be done.
The US First Lady, Michelle Obama, an active campaigner on reducing childhood obesity, called the initiative a ‘game changer’.
Disney is the first big company to make a public decision to change the way things are currently done. And with around $1bn spent a year on these kind of ads, it’s potentially risky.
Is Disney’s move the Jiminy Cricket to success?
At Which? we’ve been asking for tighter regulations on junk food advertising when children are watching TV, so banning ads on media clearly aimed at kids is a positive step forward. But while regulations have tightened, and companies have made improvements, there are still a number of loopholes allowing children to be targeted.
In the UK the rules only apply to programmes that are of particular appeal to children under 16. There are rules for when ads for foods high in fat, sugar and salt can be shown and also an industry code that covers their content.
Of course we all know kids will watch things their older siblings do, and prime family viewing time is not covered by the rules they will still see ads.
Mickey mouse initiative?
How junk food is defined will also play a part in whether Disney’s new rules will make a difference. If they don’t get that bit right, then it will be hard to truly implement these changes.
So should we be applauding Disney’s announcement? Do you want to see the same approach established in the UK?