Buzz Lightyear To Make Sound Food Choices

In a major boost to food nutrition and responsible marketing, Disney announced that it was moving to only permit its licensed properties (such as Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, and Ariel the Little Mermaid) to be utilized on food products that meet prescribed nutritional standards.

According to Disney and published reports, Disney's nutrition standards will limit how much sugar, calories and fat could be in snacks and foods marketed by companies with whom Disney has licensing relationships. In particular, barred foods from Disney licensing deals will be those in which total fat exceeds 30 percent of calories for main and side dishes and 35 percent for snacks, saturated fat exceeds 10 percent of calories for main dishes and snacks, and added sugar exceeds 10 percent of calories for main dishes and 25 percent for snacks. Moreover, all trans fats are to be eliminated from food at restaurants located in Disney's theme parks by 2007 and from licensed food items by 2008. Presumably, Disney's characters will be shaping up.

The New York Times noted that while the move was an important step towards battling childhood obesity, the announcement did not effect the advertising of third-party food products on Disney's television stations, such as Toon Disney and ABC Kids, in which junk food products are frequently promoted.

Disney's move to set the bar in permitting its prized characters to be used only for nutritionally sound food products makes sense as a brand should not want its licensed properties to be utilized on products that may tarnish its image. Given the powerful impression Disney's characters have on children, setting responsible limits to their use is a welcome, albeit overdue step in addressing better nutrition for children.

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