Study gives insight into sports stars’ promotion of alcohol and fast food

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 11th April 2012

More than half of Australia’s elite athletes believe that sport is an acceptable marketing vehicle for alcohol and fast food, a study by the University of Sydney has found.

The national study, led by Dr Grunseit of the University of Sydney, examined almost 2,000 elite athletes’ perceptions about their role in health promotion. The findings are published in the April issue of the Health Promotion Journal of Australia.

While 54.4 per cent of the athletes said they believe that sport is an acceptable marketing tool for alcohol and fast food products, 91.5 per cent showed a strong disinclination, on an individual level, to actively promoting unhealthy products.

Dr Anne Grunseit, from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, “The perceived need for the sporting industry to be able to continue to earn money from food and alcohol advertising and sponsorship might explain this passive tolerance.”

According to the study’s findings, younger, amateur and female athletes were less supportive of unhealthy product promotion than older, male, team and professional athletes.

The survey also showed that while low numbers of athletes reported tobacco use and takeaway food consumption, a high proportion reported binge drinking.

“Research shows the products children request and purchase are highly influenced by the sponsorship of elite sporting teams or athletes, Dr Grunseit said. “In terms of public policy, as with tobacco, the regulation of unhealthy sponsorship or the use of counter-marketing, (for example quit smoking advertisements) to reduce demand for a particular product could be effective.”