Should Soda and Fast Food Giants Play Such a Central Role in the Olympic Games?

Nicholas Heasman-Walsh/CC BY-SA 2.0

Yesterday London opened the Olympic Games in stunning fashion, spending a supposed $40 million on the show of a lifetime. And just in time for the Olympics, we're reminded what it's all about.

I’m quite sure that these committed athletes didn’t pair their daily workouts with a hamburger, french fries, and a sugary soda. So why do fast food giants and junk food kings play such a role in the Olympic Game sponsorships?

The Lancet recently criticized the disingenuous nature of such sponsorships in their paper Chariots of Fries (Thanks Marian Nestle for bringing it to my attention):

The Games should encourage physical activity, promote healthy living, and inspire the next generation to exercise. However, marring this healthy vision has been the choice of junk food and drink giants—McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Cadbury's—as major sponsors of the event.

No to High Calorie Foods

The London Assembly passed a motion to push the International Olympic Committee to exclude high calorie sponsors, especially those that were known contributors to childhood obesity.

But it seems the motion was ignored. Again, The Lancet:

Indeed, their presence is hardly subtle. The new two-storey McDonald's restaurant at the Olympic Park in Stratford will be the biggest in the world. It will serve up to 1200 customers an hour and make £3 million selling fast food during the Games. Cadbury's has joined forces with McDonald's to offer what it states on its website will be the “perfect snack” to enjoy whilst watching the Games—a chocolate bar-ice cream concoction with a whopping 395 calories per serving. Coca-Cola, meanwhile, has raised its profile considerably by branding the Olympic torch relay.

Sitting to Watch the Games

In all the Olympic Games I’ve seen, I can hardly remember a time when fast food and soda giants did not play such a role, but The Lancet certainly has a point. This article was the opener to a larger piece about the dangers of physical inactivity; perfect timing considering that more than a few of us will be sitting to watch the games whilst snacking on some sort of junk food.

What do you think? Should this symbol of athleticism and hard work be sponsored by junk food?

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Tags: Factory Farming | London | Olympics

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