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Mothers' Union concerned over Disney sponsorship

17 July 2015

THE Mothers’ Union (MU) has expressed concern that Disney could use its position as the sponsor of a government-funded healthy-living campaign to “further commercialise” childhood.

Change4Life, a Public Health England programme that encourages people to eat healthier food and exercise more, first signed up Disney last summer. This year, it is repeating the partnership for its campaign 10 Minute Shake Up, in which Disney cartoon characters urge children to do ten-minute bursts of exercise throughout the day.

But the MU fears that the American media conglomerate will use its link with Change4Life to “to open further commercial opportunities, now through the emotive issue of child health and obesity”.

In a statement, the MU said: “Whilst it is increasingly important to encourage children to look after their health, we believe that, in the longer term, this partnership will contribute to the fuelling of children’s appetite for all things Disney.”

Disney has produced activities and animations based on well-known cartoon characters, and will send Disney-themed wall charts and stickers to everyone who joins the 10 Minute Shake Up.

In a recent report, Bye Buy Childhood, the MU suggested that childhood in the UK was more commercialised than ever before. The MU also said that, if healthy living was presented through the medium of Disney film characters, children could miss out on using their imagination in exercising.

A spokeswoman from Public Health England said that all content produced with Disney would be free. “As well as keeping children active, the 10 Minute Shake Up campaign aims to bring children and families together,” she said.

A spokeswoman from Disney said: “Since 2006, Disney has been committed to using its stories . . . to inspire kids and families to live healthier lives. The partnership with Change4Life is a continuation of that commitment.”

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