Disney to Fight Against Childhood Obesity by Banning Junk-Food Ads

Written by: Kristiina Yang

Iger and Obama pose with Mickey Mouse

Disney CEO Robert Iger and First Lady Michelle Obama present new initiative together at June 5 press conference.

In an effort to combat America’s escalating childhood obesity problem, the Walt Disney Company, together with First Lady Michelle Obama, announced on June 5 its plan to remove junk-food advertising from its kids’ programming by 2015.

This initiative, presented by Disney CEO Robert Iger at the Newseum in Washington, will require companies advertising food and drinks to meet a set of nutrition standards in accordance with the government’s dietary guidelines. By 2015, when the full ban is slated to be in place, such companies must either reformulate their products or they will be cut off from advertising on all of Disney’s programming.

Disney is a wide-reaching and influential media company, including amongst its many divisions, a leading film studio, the ABC broadcast network, and multiple cable channels. The ban on junk-food advertising will primarily apply to its programming for children, which accounts for millions of dollars of revenue for the company each year.

While this initiative may represent a loss of money for Disney, it is not expected to be a significant amount relative to the company’s total operations. This small cost is seen as a smart business move for the positive publicity that this initiative will afford the company.

When a food or drink product meets Disney’s nutrition standards, it will receive a Mickey Check, a symbol also newly introduced as a part of Tuesday’s announcement. Additionally, Disney plans to revamp its menu items and offer more fruit and vegetable options at its domestic theme parks by next year.

Mickey Check

Food and drink items will receive a Mickey Check when they meet Disney's nutrition standards.

Disney is being lauded for its acknowledgement of media’s heavy influence on children, particularly in junk-food advertising, as well as, its commitment to battling childhood obesity. Such was the draw for Michelle Obama’s involvement, who has made fighting childhood obesity a cornerstone of her time in office.

In her statement at the press conference, Obama praised Disney remarking, “This is a major American company, a global brand, that is literally changing the way it does business so that our kids can lead healthier lives. With this new initiative Disney is doing what no major media company has done before in the United States and what I hope every company will do going forward.”

This initiative is the first time that a wide-scale media company is taking control of what food products are being advertised to children. Some believe that with this ban, Disney may completely change the landscape of food marketing toward children with other stations such as Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network anticipated to take notice and act accordingly.

Misconceptions of ADHD

Written By: Liana Fahie
Recently, there have been many conceptions about ADHD. Some question whether ADHD really exists or if it’s just a gimmick used by pharmaceutical companies to make money. Others would argue that it’s a valid disorder. The most popular opinion seems to be that it’s commonly misdiagnosed.
ADHD is defined as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It was first discovered in 1902 but not officially named till 1980 when it was decided that it was a disorder that could be properly categorized. There are three types of ADHD, combined type, predominately inattentive type, and predominately hyperactive-impulsive type. The most common type is the combined type, which combines both major symptoms of inattentiveness as well as hyperactivity. Most common misconceptions about this disorder are that children who have it are dumb, lazy and see it as an excuse to act out. It’s not a disorder that can be diagnosed through blood tests or any sort of X ray testing, its existence is determined mainly by suggestion of a teacher or day care figure then looked into by a psychiatrist to prescribe a low dose of medicine to help the child battle the disorder. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 8.4% of children ages 13-17 get diagnosed as having ADHD each year. That’s about an estimate of 5.2 million kids. In more relatable terms, about 1 out of 10 kids is diagnosed as having the disorder. There has been a reported 3% increase each year in kids who have been diagnosed with having ADHD from tests from 1997-2006 in comparison to tests today. It’s thought that numbers of kids with ADHD are actually higher than speculated by health care officials and seemingly more common in boys than in girls.


            It’s not surprising that boys are more susceptible to this disorder than girls are. Boys are characteristically more rowdy than girls in nature. While females are more likely to sit and talk with friends as kids, boys are more likely to be very active and playful. Also ADHD is over diagnosed in urban areas. A possible suggestion as to why many kids in these areas get over diagnosed could be due to their family background. Many times kids in urban areas act out to a multitude of outside factors among their family lives. This is why it is increasingly important to be mindful of outside factors that could influence a child’s behavior. Seeing that this disorder can not be determined from blood tests or x-rays, its often left up to the discretion of a health care provider’s judgment to diagnose a child. This judgment can often times be faulty and biased.
Often times people are quick to write off a child as having ADHD when they seem a little hard to handle. An article in Style Magazine submitted by CNN News Wire talked about a toddler who got dismissed from day care because he was reportedly “all over the place,” and just all in all difficult to deal with. More importantly it was noted that the daycare was not staffed or skilled enough to actively deal with him. However, doctors in most cases are not the ones quick to suggest one having the disorder. It’s those that spend most time with them, such as teachers or day care providers.
            Seeing that it’s most commonly diagnosed by such figures, one has to wonder if these teachers or even the parents are trained well enough to be able to differentiate when a child is being difficult because they have a disorder or if placing the child on medication may be a cop out to compensate for their lack of skill in handling children who are seemingly more difficult.
            The article continues to shed light on a different problem associated with the diagnosis of ADHD, over-medication. Often times it’s thought that medication would be the simple solution to treat children who show signs or hyperactivity or inattentiveness. Often times these children use about 4 or 5 different drugs at a time to calm them. Often times children get dependent on these drugs as they grow up. However there is no guarantee that these drugs will prevent children from acting out in the future. Misdiagnosis of ADHD could be prevented if educators and parents were thoroughly educated on properly identifying signs of ADHD as well as the risks of misdiagnosis and the long-term effects medication can cause.

Adventure Time Animated Series to Start New Season Jan. 16

Written By: Catherine Wolinski

Finn and Jake fans, get ready to reenter the Land of Ooo. Adventure Time, the critically acclaimed animated series on Cartoon Network, will begin airing new episodes next week—the young television show embarks on its fourth season on Monday, Jan. 16.

Finn and Jake frrom Adventure Time

Jake the Dog and Finn the Human fist-pump a victory.

What’s not to love about a heroic boy and his magical dog taking on quests throughout a mystical land of monsters and bubblegum?  Some might say there are a few things, but they risk being refuted. Though passed up twice by Nickelodeon in 2008, Adventure Time (originally titled Adventure Time with Finn and Jake) was picked up by Cartoon Network later that year, to begin airing in April 2010. Nearly two years later, the adventurous television series continues to win the hearts of many. The PG series has garnered a cult following that captures children and adults alike, along with commercial success, award nominations, and praise from critics.

“Adventure Time makes me wish I were a kid again, just so I could grow up to be as awesome as the kids who are currently watching Adventure Time will be,” says D.F., a critic from Entertainment Weekly.

This remark holds quite a truth to it—viewers are constantly in awe of the surrealist scenes, electric soundtrack, and bizarre characters, all of which are inhuman and range from gremlin to Berry Princess. Although it is primarily a kids program, chock full of colorful landscapes, lighthearted escapades, and goofy facial expressions, the show as a whole is

Finn kicks the Ice King in a shot of Adventure Time

Finn kicks away evil as he defeats the Ice King.

far from simple or childish. Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward uses a unique style to communicate a sense of magic in a post-apocalyptic world, a setting which tends to include punchy subject matter that far surpasses the cognitive awareness of its target audience. Finn, presumed to be the only human left, employs himself as a hero of the various worlds within the Land of Ooo, fighting evil and boredom as he goes from adventure to adventure with his sidekick Jake. While it is true that Finn and Jake are most often concerned with the safety of various princesses, they are also faced with dark situations, like the lonely Ice King who tries to capture and marry said princesses though he looks to be a much older man.

According to television critic Robert Lloyd, Adventure Time exhibits “a fantastical land peopled with strange, somewhat disturbing characters and has at its center a young male person or person-like thing making his way in that world with the help of unusual, not always reliable, mentors.”

Both disconcerting and delightful, Adventure Time proves that our interaction with the world can be far from ordinary.  For those looking for weeknight television adventures, tune in to Cartoon Network this January.