Recently, Disney made the startling announcement that advertisers on all of their media outlets would have to adhere to a new set of stringent health guidelines. The new guidelines will force advertisers to limit the overall calories, fat, salt and sugar in what they advertise in programs geared toward children. A Gathering of Experts believes that what made that announcement so shocking is that sugary sweets have been intrinsically linked to children’s programming – especially Saturday morning cartoons – for years. But Disney went even further during an event with First Lady Michelle Obama. They also announced that they are revamping the food that will be served at their theme parks.
While Disney’s announcement was bold, it turns out that Ted Turner’s Cartoon Network started blazing the trail for them back in 2007. No Cartoon Network character is allowed to be in advertisements that endorse high fat or high sugar foods, including beverages. While the Cartoon Network started their program against childhood obesity quietly a few years ago, they haven’t gone as far as Disney in clamping down on advertisements. However, they have been proactive with their programming by developing shows like “Rescuing Recess” and “Move It Movement,” which encourage children to exercise.
A Gathering of Experts believes that these initiatives will go a long way in helping fight the epidemic of childhood obesity. Childhood obesity rates have grown nearly thirty percent since 1980, and they don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. With more and more physical education classes being downsized – or canceled outright – due to school budget problems, children are much less active than they used to be.
But, the problem isn’t just lack of exercise. Schools across the country have adopted extremely fattening and high sugar meals that have contributed to the crisis. Pizza is considered a vegetable in school food programs across the country, according to USDA standards – along with french fries. And it’s not just the food that schools serve, it’s the foods that they advertise that is part of the problem as well. Because of budget shortfalls, many schools across the country have started making money by having paid advertisements around the halls for sugary drinks and snacks.
However, because of initiatives by the Cartoon Network and Disney, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, childhood obesity is sparking conversations about the causes and potential solutions to the crisis. Hopefully in a few years there will be changes in place to make sure that childhood obesity is a thing of the past.