You have heard the term “smoking kills.” The new fight is against fat, salt, sugar, and empty calories as America is trying to pick up its fight against obesity and the myriad of diseases and conditions which follow it. On top of Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on large sugary sodas in New York, now The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has said that it will place a ban on junk food ads on TV, radio, and online which are targeted at kids aged 12 and under.
The impact will not be immediate as the new guidelines will not take effect until 2015. The guidelines are supposed to set limits on the calories as well as the amount of fat and added sugar for main course and side items as well as for snack foods.
The obvious target in this fight and sugar fight might be the market value of the $165 billion The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO), but this hits Pepsico, Inc. (NYSE: PEP) on both sides of its $105 billion market value due to it having soda and snack foods. CEO of Disney Bob Iger also noted that Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE: KFT) would not make the cut for its Oscar Mayer Lunchables and Capri Sun products.
Disney also said that it is launching its own “Mickey Check” label to promote certain healthier food items. The aim here is to prop up healthier foods while weeding out the bad foods. The news today should not just be from the snack food and soda makers.
Fast food companies such as McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE: MCD) should be concerned here too, or they better continue retooling their menu to include more healthy food selections on top of their high-calorie fast foods that promote heart attacks and strokes.
This effort has been years in the making. Food companies already got the laws passed in prior years that shield them from class action suits so that they could avoid the same parade down the road like the tobacco companies faced in the 1990s. What the food lobby cannot protect against is external lobbying efforts that target the products with advertising limitation or restrictions from private efforts. Wait until the soda taxes and fat taxes take hold.
If you have been to New York in recent years you may have noticed the calorie count being on many menus showing the calories, fat, sugar, and salt. Some say it does not curb behavior, but many say it does curb behavior. This is not the last large effort you will see against fast food, sodas, and snack foods.
Imagine this as the healthy fast food ad of the future… Introducing the gluten-free diet chicken-fried steak, serving size: two tablespoons.
JON C. OGG