‘The Obesity Games’

JUNK FOOD brands should be excluded from sponsoring sporting events, according to the Children’s Food Campaign.



  • London 2012 sponsors attacked in new report


In a hard-hitting new report, the campaigning group claims that the power of corporate sponsors like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola has undermined the positive health legacy from this year’s Olympics.


What’s more, London 2012 is providing its sponsors with an unrivalled platform to promote their unhealthy brands and products, for very little money.


The Obesity Games report comes in a week when Seb Coe was left red-faced after a number of questions around sponsorship deals on Radio 4’s Today Programme. Lord Coe suggested that spectators would not be allowed into an Olympic event with a Pepsi T-shirt “because Coca-Cola are our sponsors and again they put millions of pounds into this project but also millions of pounds into grass roots sport – it is important to protect those sponsors.


The report concluded that corporate sponsorship accounts for less than 10% of the total funding for the London2012 Games, and junk food sponsors contribute only around 2% of the IOC income. Yet sponsors like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Cadbury’s are getting huge benefits from the deals.


“The International Olympic Committee could choose to cut out the top-tier category of food and soft drink partners entirely, and lose little more than 2% its total income,” said Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign.


Clark called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to re-examine its sponsorship deals and take a tougher approach to its food and drink sponsors in the face of rising obesity levels. He urged the IOC to set proper conditions on promoting healthy eating in their sponsorship deals – including a ‘five-a-day’ special sponsorship category and the introduction of robust healthy eating standards. The Games has a Food Vision policy, which includes targets around Fairtrade and British food, but there are no benchmark standards for health and nutrition.


The report also criticises the increasing emphasis these companies place on ‘obesity-offsetting’ – funding sports equipment and exercise schemes. This is just seeking to downplay the role diet has in obesity, rather than acknowledging that both increased activity and a healthier diet are vital, said Clark, who added:


“At every turn, the sponsorship of the Games – from the companies selected, to the terms of the deals agreed, to the way that they are implemented – seems to be set up to make the healthy choice a harder choice. It’s time that the IOC took responsibility for the effect of its sponsorship programme and made the necessary changes.”


The Children’s Food Campaign will be launching a petition to Seb Coe, Chair of LOCOG, calling on him to make it clear in LOCOG’s official post-Games report to the IOC that accepting money from McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Cadbury’s – and the way the rights were exclusive and highly protected – was counter-productive to good public relations and to a positive health legacy.


McDonald’s was given the report but has so far declined to comment.


  • September’s Foodservice Footprint will feature an analysis of the London 2012 Games’ Food Vision and its lack of standards around health and nutrition.