The Olympic Games – brought to you by fat, sugar and salt

by , Senior Food Researcher Consumer Rights 24 May 2012
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The Olympics are nearly upon us, but while we’re in for a sporting treat, will the food we eat while we’re watching live up to the healthy standards of an athletic event? Judging by the sponsors, probably not…

olympic cadbury bus

I’m starting to get excited about the Olympics. I think it will be an amazing time to be in London. Yes, I know there’ll be lots of traffic and inconvenience, but I also think there will be lots of positives and I’m looking forward to visiting the Olympic Village.

I know when I go I can pretty much guarantee I won’t be organised enough to pack my own lunch, so I’ll be at the mercy of the outlets there.

Although the organisers have said there will be a variety of outlets selling different types of food, some of the more traditional fast food restaurants will also have a prominent presence. McDonald’s, for instance, will have its largest restaurant on site.

In fact, the three food and drink related sponsors of the Olympics are Cadbury, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. I know these companies have the money to support the Olympics through their sponsorship, but to me it just doesn’t sit right.

Should the sponsors be healthier?

It seems many people agree. In a Which? online survey of 1,995 UK adults in February 2012, nearly two thirds of people agreed with the statement that ‘it undermines the healthy ethos of the Olympics to be sponsored by companies that are perceived to make mainly unhealthy food and drink’.

Nearly two thirds of people agreed that these sponsorships make it harder to tackle obesity and poor diet, and are concerned that sponsorship by these companies encourages unhealthy eating.

Around half disagreed with the argument that food brands sponsoring sports events has no impact on what children eat. So should these brands be allowed to be Olympic sponsors? Less than a quarter of the people surveyed thought they should.

Do you think that sponsorship has an influence on what people eat or do you think ‘fair game’ and let them get on with it? Will you be tucking into a Big Mac while watching the athletics or will you be packing your own sandwich?

11 comments

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wavechange

If companies really want to help sport they should make anonymous donations. The companies could save all the money needed to put up banners and advertising, and use this to invest in new healthier products.

I agree Shefalee, this doesn’t sit right with me either. For me, the Olympics represent an opportunity to promote sports and a healthy lifestyle, which shouldn’t have much of a place for fast food, chocolate and fizzy drinks.

If we’re trying to tell our kids (and many of our adults) that we should be cutting this stuff out of our diets and taking up more exercise, having these enormous brands putting their logos all over the games seems contradictory.

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wavechange

Maybe we need some well-known competitors to take a lead.

I suggest that getting rid of ‘sports drinks’ would be a good start since these are unhealthy, unnecessary and expensive. At least the rest of the junk is not promoted as healthy food and drink.

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Dean

I often thought this, things like “the England team, sponsored by McDonalds” doesn’t quite sit right.

Then I thought that so-called healthy food providers cannot possibly provide the amount of sponsorship revenue that the massive global unhealthy conglomerates can provide.

If they didn’t go for these sponsors, the bill for the games will for the most part land at the feet of the taxpayer

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Caroline

aren’t we already?

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Matt Leach

I think that it’s appalling that an institution such as the Olympics should allow such organisations to sponsor them. We live in a time when the promotion of health and fitness, along with the known dangers of fast, convenient, or ‘junk’ food, is higher than ever.
Whether these organisations, McDonald’s, Cadbury’s etc, are wealthy or not, having their logo’s splashed all over a sporting event is a huge contradiction.

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Caroline

Why are you only picking on the Olympics? All sports events/teams/etc. seem have some sort of ‘sinful’ sponsorship in one way or another.

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wavechange

Focusing on the Olympics might achieve something. Picking on minor events is likely to achieve nothing.

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m.

Stop knocking the Olympics, it’s a pointless exercise as they are just not interested, any objections should have been made long ago. These games are one of the biggest scams on the planet, and most of the sponsorships have been preordained by the Olympic committee, all these things were known before a bid was placed on our behalf, but of course Joe public who pays for it was never told.
There is a highly informative [and somewhat entertaining] article in Vanity fair which offers some insight into the reality behind the greatest [con] games on Earth.

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/06/international-olympic-committee-london-summer-olympics#?currentPage=all

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Annie

I am not worried about the health of the foods offered – if you want to stuff yourself with rubbish you should be free to do so. What annoys me is that the three giant companies mentioned are American. A bit of patriotism when offering sponsorships would not have gone amiss. Perhaps I am mistaken – it is the London Olympics? McDonalds, Coco Cola and Cadburys win the gold (not medals, just the gold).

Absolutely everything built, bought or sold should have been 100 percent British.

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Ian

The Olympics are overhyped and overpriced. I am looking forward more to my Son’s School Sports Day!

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