Disney Combating Childhood Obesity–Will It Work?

A recent report by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine showed that about 42% of Americans will be obese by 2030—and the childhood obesity rate continues to rise. Can advertising be held accountable?

In an attempt to raise awareness and encourage children and families to live healthier lifestyles, The Walt Disney Company is making changes that will—hopefully—make a difference.

Disney announced that by 2015, advertisements for high-sugared cereals, candy, and beverages would be banned from all Disney programming targeting children below the age of 12, including Saturday-morning cartoons on ABC stations owned by Disney. “All products advertised on its child-focused television channels, radio stations and Web sites will be forced to comply with a strict new set of nutritional standards,” according to the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/05/business/media/in-nutrition-initiative-disney-to-restrict-advertising.html?_r=1.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years—is it because of the number of junk-food advertisements children are exposed to or should parents be held responsible for what their children are consuming?

There is no doubt that children are influenced by advertisements, but parents aren’t powerless—who drives to McDonalds? Who stocks the refrigerator?

If the advertisement isn’t there, are people going to know that soda and fast-food even exist? Of course! So who is to say that banning junk food advertising would actually alleviate this problem?

There are a number of people who would agree it’s worth a try. Companies are terrified to make that essential step toward a healthier way of life for children in fear of losing significant revenue, but Disney believes the opposite.

According to The New York Times, Disney’s chairman Robert A. Iger feels strongly that “companies in a position to help with solutions to childhood obesity should do just that. This is about good business.”  Disney is one of the first companies to do this, positioning itself as a brand that families can trust, putting itself ahead of competitors.

The truth is, junk foods aren’t going to disappear, and parents can opt out of giving their children unhealthy foods.

Reducing the amount of junk-food advertisements geared towards children may help eliminate childhood obesity, but if nobody is willing to take that risk, we will never know. Kudos Disney!

What do you think—is it up to the media or the parents?

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About promotionalguru

A marketing communications professional helping other marketing professionals, business leaders and marketing students gain a better understanding of trends in advertising and public relations as well as tips for being a successful marketer.

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