Junior sport is an “unregulated play ground for junk food marketing”, Cancer Council VIC

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 4th December 2012

The lack of regulation over fast food sponsorship of junior sport was a barrier to the fight against obesity, the Obesity Summit in Canberra was told this morning.

Craig Sinclair, a spokesperson for the Obesity Policy Coalition at Cancer Council Victoria said there were “no controls or regulations” on the exposure of children to junk food advertising and fast food brands through junior sport.

“The local grass roots community clubs display the brand of their sport’s national sponsor often because of tie-in agreements, and there is no avenue for complaint,” he said.

“For parents who want to engage their children in the key major sports, there is nowhere to hide in terms of limiting the exposure of junk food advertising. There’s something intrinsically not right about that,” he added.

Mr Sinclair said a “key policy driver critical to improving healthy diets” is reducing children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing.

“On free to air television, self regulatory codes cover programs directed primarily to children, yet evidence shows that most children watch TV from five-to-nine pm, which current self regulations don’t cover because there are large numbers of adults also watching. Inadequate controls also exist for subscription television and websites directed to children.”

However, Australian Food News reported earlier this month that the advertising industry dismissed any links between advertising and obesity as “nonsense.”

Mr Sinclair said other “key policy drivers” to improving healthy diets are increasing the price of unhealthy food, in particular sugar sweetened beverages and providing subsidies for healthy food for those on low income and improving labelling on packaged food to empower people to make healthier choices.

Mr Sinclair called for a “fat tax” to be introduced as one way to address obesity issues in Australia.

McDonald's is one of many fast food chains that sponsor sport activities.