Should Junk Food Companies Sponsor Sports?

The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is happening as we speak. It is time for each country to come together as one in support of their football team and in turn comes the increased consumption of junk food and drink. Research from Webloyalty – a consumer research organization – predicts that in the UK, people will spend around £271 million ($459 million) on food and drink for the World Cup.

It is very unlikely that healthy food and drink choices will be included in this spend. In the first week of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, for example, sales of chips increased by 10% in the UK and sales of chocolate rose by 37%, compared with the same week the previous year.

The main contributing factor this happens during major sporting events, according to public health experts, are the sponsors. For this year’s World Cup, FIFA’s partners include soda giant Coca-Cola, while its sponsors include fast-food firm McDonald’s and beer company Budweiser.

In a recent letter published in The Lancet, Thiago Hérick de Sá, of the Department of Nutrition at the University of São Paulo’s School of Public Health in Brazil, says such sponsors “represent a direct attack” on worldwide efforts to reduce consumption of unhealthy food and drink in order to tackle increasing obesity rates.

“The basic aim of any company is to sell their products or services and to profit,” de Sá told Medical News Today. “The sponsorship of major sporting events [by fast-food and sugary drink companies] is part of the company’s marketing strategy to achieve that aim, to encourage people, including children, to consume more of their products.”

However, Jeff Mochal, senior director of Global External Communications for McDonald’s, told Medical News Today, that McDonalds does not just promote their product by doing this, that they also actively promote increased physical activity for consumers. “McDonald’s has a long-standing legacy of promoting physical activity for kids at the local, national and global levels,” he said. “We understand the importance of play in bringing families and friends together, and we provide access to all types of play through partnerships with various sporting associations.”

So what do you think? Should Junk food be treated like other products, i.e. cigarettes and alcohol, that are best to be avoided for optimum health, and get banned?

Article taken in part from


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