Eleven big food companies, including McDonald’s, PepsiCo and General Mills, have  agreed to stop advertising products that do not meet specific nutritional requirements to children younger than 12.

The move is a positive step, says registered dietitian Connie Diekman, director of nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis and current president of the American Dietetic Association.

“The willingness of companies to work to help families make better food choices is to be commended,” she says. “Making changes in which products are marketed, and how they are marketed, is a first step in changing what families purchase. The next step is for companies, communities, healthcare providers and schools to educate families about the basics of healthy eating so that they can continue to make wise food choices.”

The sooner companies recognize consumers want healthier options, the easier it will be for them to start integrating and promoting them. The next step in this process? Consumers need to “step up and thank companies for these changes and express interest in more healthy options,” Diekman urges.

“Parents need to model healthier behaviors, including what foods they purchase and how active they are,” she says. “Getting kids up and moving is just as important as buying healthier food options.

“As a registered dietitian, I thank these 11 companies for recognizing their role and showing their willingness to work with those of us who provide nutrition education to make eating easier, healthier and enjoyable.”

Book Pick: Generation XL: Raising Healthy, Intelligent Kids in a High-Tech, Junk-Food World

Editor’s Note: Because you’re dedicated to organic living, OrganicAuthority.com recommends dining on organic food to maximize flavor and minimize your risk of exposure to pesticides, chemicals and preservatives.