Kids targeted through junk food sports sponsorship

Researchers are concerned that the benefits of sport are being undermined by unhealthy messages from sponsors.
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01.Study finds unprecedented exposure to unhealthy marketing

Kids playing soccer

Aussie kids are being subjected to unprecedented levels of junk food advertising through corporate sponsorship of sports clubs. New research has found children are being exposed to unhealthy messages for up to four hours per week during community sport – particularly outdoor cricket and rugby league.

The study was conducted in the School of Health and Society, University of Wollongong, and published by Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) in the upcoming edition of The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

The researchers combined information about children’s participation in community sport with data on known patterns of food and drink sponsorship of NSW sports clubs, to estimate population rates of children’s exposure to sponsorship messages during sporting activities.

Lead author Dr Bridget Kelly said her research team was staggered by the sheer magnitude of children’s cumulative exposure to these unhealthy messages.

"With nearly two-thirds of all children participating in organised sport regularly, it is deeply concerning to see such a high frequency of fast food and sugary drink sponsorship at local sports clubs undermining the great health benefits of kids sport," Kelly said.

"Earlier research has already established that kids have high recall and awareness of the sponsors of their own clubs - particularly those featuring sports stars - associating them with positive brand attributes.

"Our study shows that fast food and sugary drink sponsorship of children’s sport is pervasive, with opportunities for company branding ranging from signage on uniforms and on field, to vouchers and other promotions."

Kelly said the high rate of children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink marketing across a variety of mediums was widely recognised as a significant contributor to childhood obesity rates. One in four Australian kids are overweight or obese.

"If we are serious about tackling Australia’s childhood obesity epidemic, we need to limit children’s exposure to these unhealthy messages – particularly in environments that should be promoting activity and healthy initiatives such as community sport," Kelly said.

Consumers International World Cup anti-junkfood campaign

To coincide with the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, Consumers International - of which CHOICE is a member - is using the hashtag #JunkFoodWorldCup on social media to draw attention to the way the World Cup is being used to market unhealthy food and drink.

We need your help collecting pictures of footballers and other images relating to the World Cup which are being used to advertise unhealthy food and beverage products. Look out for them on billboards, pack promotions, online or in TV advertising.

Examples must be of products that are high in fat, salt and or sugar and should belong to the following categories: confectionery, sugar sweetened soft drinks, ice cream, crisps or ‘fast food’.

What you can do

1. Share your photos on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #JunkFoodWorldCup

2. Or you can send screen-grabs or photographs to

3. Find out more about the #JunkFoodWorldCup campaign.

4. Enjoy the football!



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