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Disney and Childhood Obesity

June 11, 2012

This article is re-posted from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting.

On Tuesday (6/5/12), ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer introduced a news segment:

Michelle Obama appeared today with the CEO of our parent company, Disney, because Disney decided to do something historic to help fight childhood obesity and called in the big guns to do it, including a very, very famous mouse.

The “historic” move: Food ads during ABC‘s children’s programming will now have to meet what correspondent Reena Ninan called “strict nutritional standards.” Ninan also touted Disney‘s earlier decision to phase out trans fats from its theme parks and offer “healthier options.” (“They say they saw real results. The new initiative could have a much wider impact.”) She gets a quote from Disney chair and CEO Bob Iger: “I think more and more companies…will step up and join the effort.” The piece concludes by noting that a concerned mom thinks initiatives like Disney‘s “would make her life a lot easier.”

Restrictions on marketing junk food to children are certainly a long-overdue idea, and ABC does disclose that it’s talking about its owner. But there was no mention that the new guidelines will be self-enforced, and don’t fully phase in until 2015. And don’t expect to find any hint of critical questioning on ABC of Disney‘s strategy—like its (also unmentioned) plan to label what it considers healthy foods with a Mickey Mouse icon, “equating its brand,” as Christian Science Monitor‘s Stephanie Hanes writes, “with ‘good for you.'”

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