July 17th, 2012
Junk food has no place in the Olympic lineup
By Neville Rigby
The Coca-Cola bandwagon that has zigzagged the UK with the Olympic flame leaves no doubt as to the real purpose of the torch relay. The Olympic dream is a nightmare that ignores the reality of today’s obesity epidemic and targets children with messages linking prominent brands to sport’s feelgood factor.
By concluding long-term exclusivity agreements with iconic junk food brands, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has failed to support public health policy. Junk food – in the shape of Coca-Cola and McDonald’s as “top” Olympic sponsors and Cadbury as official “treats’ provider” – is part and parcel of the sports jamboree. So, forget those vague attempts to get people to lead healthier lifestyles through the Change4Life campaign – just tuck into your burger and fizzy pop, and enjoy the show.
UK governments have not been entirely blind to the absurdity of staging an Olympics emblazoned with junk-food logos wrapped up in legally binding exclusivity deals. Tessa Jowell MP received a sharp prod in the ribs when she dared to point out a few years ago the need for the Olympic junk-food sponsors to take heed of the UK’s childhood obesity crisis.