With growing evidence that junk food marketing is contributing to the nation's childhood obesity epidemic, the Walt Disney Company plans to take a stand against some food ads. Disney announced today that by 2015, it will stop airing junk food ads on its kid-focused television channels, radio stations and websites.
Disney admitted that it will lose some advertising revenue as a result, the New York Times reported. Under the new rules, many current advertisers will no longer be allowed on the air, such as Capri Sun drinks and Kraft Lunchables meals. As for its own food, Disney plans to reduce sodium in kid's meals served at its theme parks by 25 percent. It also plans to create public service announcements promoting healthy eating and exercise habits, the Times said.
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First Lady Michelle Obama praised Disney's move. "With this new initiative, Disney is doing what no major media company has ever done before in the U.S.," she said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
About one in three American children are obese, according to the American Heart Association. At the same time, food and beverage companies spend close to $2 billion a year on ads targeting young kids, USA Today reported.
"If we don't deal with food marketing to kids, we don't have any chance of addressing childhood obesity," Margo G. Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told USA Today. While Wootan praised Disney's move, she said that it is far from perfect. Disney will still be able to advertise "better-for-you versions of products that are not perfectly nutritious," she warned USA Today. "There are still going to be SpaghettiOs and things like that in the mix."