Disney to ban junk food ads

Walt Disney becomes first major US broadcaster to ban ads for unhealthy meals aimed at under-12s

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US media giant Walt Disney joined up with First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday to announce plans to do its bit to tackle America’s “obesity epidemic”, reports the BBC.

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Disney has said ads across its kids’ TV shows, internet sites and radio programmes will have to comply with nutritional guidelines that place limits on salt, sugar and fat levels and overall calories.

The company will also serve healthier children’s meals at its theme parks and show adverts to promote exercise and healthy food. There are also plans to introduce Disney-themed fruit and vegetable products to be sold in supermarkets.

Mrs Obama has been an active campaigner for healthy eating since her husband became President. According to The Independent, she praised Disney for “doing what no major media company has ever done before in the US” and said she hopes other organisations such as Nickelodeon and Discovery Kids will follow suit.

Junk food manufacturers currently spend around £650m a year on adverts aimed at children under 12. According to the BBC, almost a third of children in America are overweight or obese.

Critics have been sceptical that the new rules will not come into effect until 2015 and say much will depend on how Disney defines junk food, according to the BBC.

Disney said that any cereals with 10 grams of sugar or more per serving would not be advertised, or a meal with more than 600 calories.

Disney’s plans follows an announcement by New York Mayor Michel Bloomberg last week that he plans to ban sales of large servings of soft drinks in the city.

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