Disney Hops on the Healthy Kid Food Bandwagon

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I told you this healthy food thing is catching on. The Walt Disney Company is the latest conglomerate to get in on the action. And I have to say good for them. Every little bit helps.

So what are they doing? The Company announced today nutritional guidelines that will govern any future food related endorsements and promotions; the guidelines will also help determine and improve many of the food and beverage offerings in their theme parks. This has the potential to be huge!

Disney has already started using some of their characters like 'Kim Possible' and 'The Incredibles' to promote healthier food items like instant oatmeal. So these guidelines do seem like a natural progression. Let's hope they stick and work!

Here's a rundown of what they came up with straight out of their news release:

*A cap on calories that results in appropriate kid-sized portions.
*Total fat will not exceed 30 percent of calories for main and side dishes and 35 percent for snacks.
*Saturated fat will not exceed 10 percent of calories for main dishes, side dishes and snacks.
*Added sugar will not exceed 10 percent of calories for main dishes and side dishes and 25 percent of calories for snacks. (This is much better than the guideline that California has mandated for school snack foods of "not more than 35% of sugar by weight". The Disney sugar guideline has more teeth.)

There is a small caveat to the guidelines:

*Disney will continue to license special-occasion sweets such as birthday cakes and seasonal candy as part of its product range but will limit the number of indulgence items in its licensed portfolio to 15 percent by 2010. In addition, most special-occasion sweets will be available in single-serving packets.

Actually, I think this is a pretty fair caveat. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our kids (and ourselves) enjoying a special occasion treat (emphasis on occasion-ally). So this seems reasonable especially if portion size is being controlled.

It's not completely clear to me however, what exactly will change in their theme parks. But starting this month kids' meals are automatically being served with lowfat milk (I hope it's 1% and not 2% but the news release doesn't say), or 100% fruit juice for a beverage instead of soda; and for side dishes apple sauce or carrots sticks are being served instead of French fries. The soda and fries are still available but parents have to ask for them at no additional cost (I think these items should cost a little extra to provide another disincentive dontcha think?!).

This is definitely a step in the right direction, but I am very curious to hear what else will be going on in the theme parks. If anyone else out there has more inside info let us in on it. Regardless, I am glad that a company with such an influence on our kids has taken these starting steps. Click here to see Disney's news release.

We are on our way! Have a fruit and veggie filled day (and I guess you can get some of those at Disneyland now too).
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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