The official motto for the London Olympics which open tonight is “Inspire a Generation”. As a massive sports fan, I ‘m really looking forward to it and hope my kids are inspired and excited by it too. But the more I read about the big food and drink sponsors for these games, the more it leaves me with a sense of disappointment.
The following "Obesity Games" infographic (JPG, 0.5MB) by the Children’s Food Campaign in the UK is a really insightful look at food and drink sponsorship at these Olympic Games and the deals behind them. The world’s largest fast food outlet has been built at the Olympic Park for the event, while the Torch Relay itself was led by a truck advertising soft drinks and seen by 8 million people along its 8,000 mile journey.
This might not seem like a big deal to many people and that the reaction from someone like me in public health is a little over the top. Well to answer that, media in the UK yesterday reported how Games’ police officers are being told to empty their branded foods into un-branded bags so as not to breach sponsorship regulations for the event.
Two years ago, the World Health Organisation endorsed a series of recommendations aimed at creating or improving public policy in member countries in relation to the impact on children of marketing high fat, salt and sugar foods.
The facts about children’s weight are stark
- In the UK, 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese by the time they finish primary school
- On the island of Ireland, the trends are similar with 1 in 4 children of school-going age overweight or obese
The position taken by sponsors is that these sporting events just wouldn’t happen without food brand advertising to support and finance them. But if the Olympics are to be true to their motto of “inspiring a generation”, having fast food and beer as the main sponsors as well as an official “treats provider” are not the way to go.
If like me you’re watching some of the events, here are some tasty half time snack recipes to keep you going. And while you’re doing that, count how many times you see food and drink sponsorship in the first five minutes of your favourite event.
Or 9 and a bit seconds if it’s the 100 meters sprint…