I am a confessed life-long Disney fan. That fact is more than slightly apparent to anyone who has had the (mis)fortune of travelling to DisneyWorld with me (or even just sitting through an Aladdin movie with me) and seeing just how high my ridiculous levels of enthusiasm can go. But, that level just went higher. Now, not only is Disney Co. a sweet childhood distraction, Disney has gained my health-consious respect for taking a step in the right direction and (gasp) going healthy!
In an effort to tie in to the healthy living movement, and to popularize healthy diet choices among US children, Disney has announced that they will be phasing in healthier eating opportunities at their widely popular theme parks. Now, instead of going to Disney World and gorging on as much sugar as they can find while having the time of their lives, our kids (and those of us who are still kids at heart) can enjoy the cartoonish pleasures of Disney while sub-consciously learning about healthy food choices. What an idea!
Think about it, in an era where childhood obesity is skyrocketing, it is absolutely imperative that we start teaching children about healthy eating habits early. How can you keep a 6-year-old interested while you talk about carbohydrate versus fat levels and calories and diabetes statistics? Right, it’s impossible. Never mind how hard it can be to teach healthy living to adults. So, the answer is: make healthy eating fun. By linking healthy living to something as treasured in a child’s mind as Disney, they won’t even realize how good it is for them.
So, what exactly is Disney doing? So far I see less on the vocal advocacy side, but there’s time. Right now, though, they’ve outlined the following as changes to their theme park menus in the next year:
• Removal of trans fats, per successful pilot programs at the ESPN Zone restaurant in downtown Disney in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Trans fats were removed from chicken tenders, french fries and frying oils. Guest feedback showed 71% rated the taste of the fries as “excellent” or “very good.”
• Launching burgers with no more than 20% fat and buns that are 10% whole wheat, and thinner-crust pizzas with low-fat cheese;
• Ramping up low-fat and vegetarian options;
• Total fat will not exceed 30% of calories for main/side dishes and 35% for snacks;
• Added sugar will not exceed 10% of calories for main/side dishes and 25% for snacks.
If we, the consumers, give Disney and similar companies support in these endeavors, hopefully they will continue to move in the right direction.
(Thanks to Karen’s Sweet Resolution blog for turnign me on to this – I was so excited that I had to write about it too).