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On the heels of Michael Bloomberg's proposed — and unpopular — plan to ban soft drinks larger than sixteen ounces in New York City, Disney has jumped on the anti-obesity bandwagon, announcing plans to cease running ads for junk food on any shows geared toward children aged twelve and under. Due to existing contracts with current advertisers, the planned changes wouldn't kick in until 2015.
The change is part of a larger health-friendly rebranding by the corporation, which will also reduce the amount of sodium in kid's meals at its theme parks, as well as introduce a new series of foods to be sold featuring the "Mickey Check," indicating that they meet the company's standards for healthy snack options. "Companies in a position to help with the solutions to childhood obesity should do just that," said Disney chairman Roger A. Iger. "This is not altruistic. This is about smart business."
The move is strongly backed by Michelle Obama, who said in a statement, "With this new initiative, Disney is doing what no major media company has ever done before in the U.S. — and what I hope every company will do going forward." Competitors like Nickelodeon likely won't have much of a choice but to follow suit, given Disney's massive industry influence.
However, some health experts are skeptical of the real anti-obesity benefits Disney's plan will offer. "Here comes Disney with yet another symbol," said one nutrition researcher, "and it's too early to say whether this will simply add to the chaos and confusion or actually help steer parents and kids as they shop."
This is all well and good — kids probably shouldn't be bombarded with more incentive to down high-fructose corn syrup — but until someone takes a real leap into the future by finally making meals in pill form, I'm unimpressed. What are we, cavemen?
Image by Dave Herr