Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unhealthy Products Sponsoring The London 2012 Olympics: A Public Health Catastrophe?

 Given that the Olympic motto is: “Faster, Higher, Stronger”, are companies that sell unhealthy products sponsoring the London 2012 Olympics making the average spectator “fatter, drunker and sicker?” 

By: Ringo Bones 

Probably the only high-level scandal plaguing the 2012 Olympiad beside the security contractor G4S failing some of its obligations, the issue of companies peddling unhealthy products being allowed to sponsor every Summer Olympic event since the 1984 L.A. Olympics has been finally given the focus it desperately deserves. Many are now questioning the wisdom of Mc Donald’s, Heiniken and Coca Cola – just to name a few – being allowed by the International Olympic Committee to sponsor every Olympic event since, given that these products have the propensity of making the average Olympic enthusiasts chronic health problems like obesity, heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, type-2 diabetes and other “diseases of civilization”. Given that the Olympic motto is the hendiatris Citius, Altius, Fortius – or in English: “Faster, Higher, Stronger”, should companies peddling unhealthy products be prevented from sponsoring any Summer Olympic events in the future? 

In a BBC interview back in July 14, 2012, former International Olympic Committee marketing director Michael Payne is also concerned of the growing number of companies who sell unhealthy food and drinks being allowed to sponsor the Summer Olympic Games. But he also stresses that if these companies were banned from sponsoring the games, the IOC would be left with a financial black hole that can’t be easily filled with other sponsors who sell much healthier products. Isn’t the Olympic Games primarily a celebration of health and fitness whether you are an Olympic hopeful or just a mere spectator? 

Given that the UK government’s budget for spreading awareness about healthier diet is way, way smaller than these multi-national corporations who spend millions every year advertising their alcoholic and sugar-saturated drinks and junk food – most ordinary folks tend to opt for a dubious eating and drinking lifestyle choice because its what they frequently see on the telly anyway. A recent public health study in Britain shows that if this current trend of an unhealthy lifestyle choice continues by the year 2050, 90% of the UK population could be overweight. This means the already burdened UK’s NHS could be strained even further with obesity and diet-related chronic health problems. At present, over-indulgent dietary related diseases kill 35-million around the world every year – 5 times more than that of tobacco related deaths. And at present, junk food and alcoholic beverage sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics still can’t be held accountable – let alone responsible – of the way their products ruin the health of the UK public. 

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