Cricket Australia under fire regarding KFC sponsorship

Posted by Isobel Drake on 7th October 2008

Leading Australian obesity experts have called on Cricket Australia to end its sponsorship arrangements with KFC, claiming its promotional support for a fast food giant is unhelpful at a time when childhood obesity is considered a major concern.The call was made in a letter published yesterday in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) by the directors of Sydney University’s Institute of Nutrition Obesity and Exercise.

Professors Stephen Colagiuri and Ian Caterson said they were alarmed during the last Australian cricket season to see Australian cricket players prominently badged with the logo of KFC and heavy advertising of KFC products.

“We are increasingly concerned and disappointed that Cricket Australia has a sponsorship agreement with, and consequently promotes, KFC going as far as publicly declaring the company the ‘Official Fast Food Restaurant of Cricket Australia’. This advertising uses the standing of cricket and its players to endorse and promote unhealthy eating habits, one of the major root causes of obesity in Australia,” they wrote in their letter to the MJA. “With the explosion of obesity related illness, we need champions to encourage health promoting behaviours, particularly healthy eating and increased physical activity. The enthusiastic encouragement of unhealthy and undesirable eating habits should have no place in sporting sponsorship. Not so long ago similar sentiments were being expressed about tobacco sponsorship of sport, which fortunately has been eradicated.”

“Cricket Australia should consider its responsibilities to Australia’s children and youth and review its sponsorship by KFC. Not only would this benefit the health of the community but it would also demonstrate leadership and social responsibility by Cricket Australia and Australia’s elite cricketers,” Professors Colagiuri and Caterson added.

A report released last week discovered 23% of children were now overweight or obese, while 5% were underweight. The high number of children overweight has been blamed on decreasing levels of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits.

A copy of the letter “KFC Sponsorship of cricket” can be viewed at the Medical Journal of Australia website (towards the bottom of the page).