In Australia the proportion of children who are overweight or obese is increasing. While the causes of obesity are complex and many, children’s exposure to high levels of unhealthy food marketing is one factor that affects the food and drinks that children like, ask for, buy and consume.
Children are exposed to unhealthy food marketing in a range of ways. Sport sponsorship is a significant form of unhealthy food and drink marketing that is increasingly being used to market these products to children. While sponsorship may be an important source of funding for sport, sponsorship by manufacturers of unhealthy food and drinks can undermine the health promoting goals of sport. The promotion of food and drinks that are high in fat, sugar and/or salt may undo some of the health benefits gained by children participating in sport and help to establish and reinforce unhealthy eating habits which last throughout life.
Currently in Australia, there are no regulations designed to limit children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink marketing through sport sponsorship.
Cancer Council NSW and the Prevention Research Collaboration, University of Sydney conducted research to determine the scope of unhealthy food and drink sponsorship of children’s sport, the effect of this sponsorship on children, and potential solutions to create healthier sponsorship arrangements. The results can be found in the Building solutions to protect children from unhealthy food and drink sport sponsorship report.