Cartoon Net puts itself on healthy diet


NEW YORK -- Cartoon Network said it would limit its characters' appearance on children's food and drinks to healthy choices, the third company to do so in the past week.

Nickelodeon and Discovery Communications announced similar licensing guidelines last week; the Walt Disney Co. instituted nutritional changes to its licensing program last year. It comes as the companies -- and the marketers who advertise the products -- grapple with federal attention to advertising targeting children. Many marketers are cutting or cleaning up their advertising under pressure from the federal government and interest groups.

Cartoon Network's rules link its licensing program to government nutritional standards as well as input from two noted nutritionists. It includes product licensing and branded integration on its channels, online and on the products themselves. It takes effect Jan. 1.

The new rules prohibit the use of its company-owned characters and series in food and drinks that don't meet caloric, fat and sugar limits. Main dishes need to have less than 600 total calories and fat encompassing less than 35% of total calories; for main dishes, the limit is 360 calories per serving, with less than 35% of the calories coming from fat. An 8-oz. serving of beverages has to have less than 200 calories.

There's an exception for what the company calls "special-occasion sweets."

Cartoon Network also will work with nutritionists on new programming that will encourage healthy eating and activity. It will extend Cartoon Network's "Get Animated" outreach program.