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Should the Olympics Promote Junk Food?

Should the Olympics Promote Junk Food?
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As world-class athletes gathered to compete in the London 2012 Olympics, Jamie Oliver joined health professionals to take aim at celebrity athletes who promote sugar and fat-loaded foods. Their letter, published in the July 25th Times, was blunt:

We believe it is wrong for athletes to encourage the excessive consumption of such items, which are fuelling poor health and obesity. David Beckham is a great sportsman, yet he has endorsed Pepsi. What about the impact of Gary Lineker’s association with Walkers crisps? Or the partnership between Mars and the FA?

The letter was signed by Dr Aseem Malhotra (Cardiologist); Dr Hilary Cass (President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health); Professor Terence Stephenson (Past President); Steve Iredale (President, National Association of Head Teachers); Charlie Powell (Director, Children’s Food Campaign); and Jamie Oliver. They accused the junk food industry of triggering the “halo” effect by linking their unhealthy offerings with celebrity athletes.

Olympics and Junk Food

A lot of sports celebrities will make appearances at the Olympics, people like David Beckham and Gary Lineker. Their endorsements of various products will tag along with them.

The Premiere Athlete & Celebrity site gives a glimpse into the money paid to famous people for their appearances, endorsements, and speaking engagements. If you want Mario Andretti, expect to pay between $30,000 and $50,000. You can hire Dorothy Hamill for half that. Don’t expect Hank Aaron for under $50,001. Most don’t list their fees.

The money is seductive for both parties. Athletes and other celebrities fatten their bank accounts. Companies benefit from the “halo” effect and make shareholders happy with increased profits. When it comes to the Olympics, sponsors stand to gain a great deal by their connection with major sports figures and with events that capture the eye of the world.

Next: Studies Link Diet and Disease

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Photo credits: Thinkstock

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65 comments

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5:57AM PST on Nov 26, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

4:26AM PDT on Oct 28, 2012

Thank you

7:33PM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

The Olympics need sponsors to help with expenses. If you don't like junk food or cokes that's your right. Having them as a sponsor does not mean that the atheletes eat or drink thier products but money has to come from somewhere. These large companies have the funds, so why shouldn't they contribute? It's still your own decision to use them or not. How else will the Olympics be funded? Will you give money to support them? I doubt it, so let them get money wherever they can or there might not be anothe Olympics. Without funding they can't go on.

8:49PM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

The reason McDonald's and Coca Cola have the money to sponsor the Olympics is because the consumers have overflowed their bank accounts. If everyone who has been complaining had spent their fastfood dollars at some internationally renowned health food restaurant, then perhaps the IOC would have had a healthier choice for their sponsor.

7:30AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

it's all about money

7:49AM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

I was surprised to see McDonald's and Coke were major sponsors of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Such a contradiction. If our athletes consume too much of this junk food, they wouldn't be Olympians.

2:20PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

sorry, but it just doesn't fit!
Atheletics and junk food?
(if i was an athlete, i wouldn't want to be associated with McDo or Coke...)

7:14AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Anything for money. Stop treating the olympics like flawless events, they're not.

9:24PM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

it's unbelievably ridiculous!! i was in shock when i read that chips (fries) would not be allowed to be sold in london during the olympics...except at mctoilets. it was at that point that i realized that mctoilets must be a sponsor of the olympics. what a disgrace! those athletes sure don't get where they are by drinking coca cola and eating at mctoilets...

11:11AM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

Years ago, when a star athlete won a gold medal, he/she appeared on a Wheaties cereal box. This was the height of exposure. You were advertising a whole gain, nutritious cereal. Today, a gold medal winner becomes a flash celebrity, and their newly found agents, squeeze all they can out of them.
Except of course if your Bruce Jenner......I'd take his medal away for being an embarrassment to the nation.

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