August 31, 2007/Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week-- To reflect its ongoing commitment to promote lifetime health and wellness for children and families, Cartoon Network announced newly formalized food & beverage-related guidelines addressing use of its licensed characters and a pledge to develop new programming integrating positive messages regarding nutrition and activity. These newly-adopted guidelines, developed primarily from nutritional standards for children for food in schools issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, and in consultation with nutritional experts, Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN (national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association) and Joanne Ikeda, MA, RD (pediatric obesity researcher, Nutritionist Emeritus at U.C. Berkeley), will govern the network's character product licensing and custom brand-integrated promotional tie-ins that Cartoon Network may conduct with advertisers on-air, online, and on-pack.

Under its new policies, Cartoon Network will limit the use of its original characters related to its company-owned original series targeted to children under the age of 12 to food and beverage products that meet specific nutritional criteria. The nutritional criteria will include a cap on total calories per appropriate serving with limits on total fat, saturated fat, added trans fat, sodium and sugar and a requirement encouraging recommended nutrients such as vitamin A and C, iron, calcium, protein and fiber. The guidelines will apply in the U.S. to all new product licensing and promotional tie-in deals and to renewals of any existing deals starting January 1, 2008. The only exception will be for the licensing of special occasion sweets.

Cartoon Network is also working with its nutritional experts to develop creative new programming that will integrate messages regarding nutrition and activity across platforms to positively influence, educate and encourage families to adopt balanced and healthy lifestyles. This pledge builds on Cartoon Network's extensive variety of Get Animated outreach programs and multi-platform promotions aimed at reaching children with healthy lifestyle messages with targeted public-private partnerships, public service campaigns, online education, and off-channel activities and special events, which the network will continue to deliver.

"Cartoon Network believes in a fully comprehensive approach to promoting overall child health," said Stuart Snyder, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Turner's Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media group. "Our strategy is to approach these current health issues on all fronts by carefully guiding our licensed character branding, developing new entertainment programming and interstitials to help teach recommended dietary practices, and promoting multiple off-channel partnerships that will inspire kids to develop a more active lifestyle."

Snyder continued, "We will continue to work with and support our food and beverage partners, who as an industry are committed to the highest standards for responsible marketing to children, and who are making great strides in reformulating products and committing to shift the mix of messages in advertising to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles."

"What sets Cartoon Network's nutritional guidelines apart is that they are based on scientific research proven to be effective," says Taub-Dix. "By embracing the IOM standards for schools and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, the network has adopted an approach that will effectively complement the dietary lessons kids are also learning in schools today. This united effort can actually help kids serve as 'dietary role models' for siblings, parents and care-givers in the home. Moreover, Cartoon Network has already been championing the effort to help kids manage their diet by learning to read and understand packaged food labels through its partnership with the FDA on 'Spot the Block' and is planning some exciting programming. So the official guidelines announced essentially reinforce and underscore the efforts the network has been involved with for some time."

"I'm particularly excited that Cartoon Network will seek to further integrate messages about healthy living into its new programming, where characters can help demonstrate positive behaviors for kids to pick up on," said Ikeda. "As a nutritionist, it's really thrilling to have the opportunity to work with wildly creative and talented artists who can help transform what kids often see as traditionally dull facts and figures into fun and appealing life lessons. The goal, of course, will be to change kids' attitudes so that they will want to try new, more nutritious foods and engage in regular physical activity."

From the September 10, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash