Hey guys! This is incredible news (to my nerd self, at least):
The Walt Disney Co. announced today that by 2015 it will only advertise “healthier foods” to kids on its TV channels, radio station and website. Via USA Today, “Disney says it’s the first major media company to set a standard for food advertising on kid-focused TV programming.”
If you recall, Disney created quite the shit storm earlier this year with its “Childhood Obesity” exhibit at its Epcot center. It was plain and simply fat-shaming. A lot of the commentary from fat activists, as well as general consumers, was that Disney should focus on creating a healthful environment at its theme parks, not focus on stigmatizing its patrons based on size.
They’ve listened. If you read the press release published yesterday here, they mention they’ve been working to improve the number of more healthful options throughout their parks and retail stores, while also working to limit junk food ads via their web, TV and radio media.
I think other kid-focused networks and corporations will jump on the bandwagon. We’re seeing, nationwide, that companies, politicians and government bodies are targeting junk foods in prohibitive legislation to quell our so-called obesity epidemic.
Do I think this is a good thing? Yes and no. I think kids and parents alike will benefit from less junk-food ads on TV and more healthful options at theme parks. However, I am at the point where my discerning eye has seen how moves to “improve health” are often a facade for ulterior, profit-driven, motives. I also don’t like government or corporations telling consumers what is healthy because, again, it usually proves to be self-serving (see the Farm Bill). And, as I always say, I don’t think it’s good for any of us to get accustomed to relying on others to decide what’s healthy for us (yes, that’s me giving you free reign to dispose any of the food advice I’ve given you! I’m serious! Polonious was right, though hypocritical, when he said: to thine own self be true
So, of course, it’s this line in the USA Today piece that made my eye twitch a bit: “All food and beverage products that are advertised, promoted or sponsored on [Disney stations] will have to meet the company’s nutrition criteria for limiting calories and reducing saturated fat, sodium and sugar.”
Then: “The company says it’s already working with major food companies to reformulate products so they can be advertised during children’s programming.”
Does anyone else smell what’s going on here? We can expect, by 2015, butt-loads of “Disney-approved!” snacks. All foods that have been reformulated to meet Disney’s own standards will get their fair share of captive kids (and who knows how much dough they will pay to get this seal of approval? Does this mean the “reformulated” products will actually be more healthful? Doubtful. ‘Cuz you don’t need to reformulate whole foods, ya know? My crystal ball tells me Big Food will find ways to manipulate science to find cheap ways to process foods so that they still taste like junk but adhere to Disney’s standards. Think this doesn’t already happen? Check out this “healthy” bar made to meet competitive food standards.
And, we all know what happens when people think something is healthy: they eat more of it.
I hope I’m proven wrong.
The Cranky One