Obesity experts challenge cricket's links to KFC
7 October 2008
Leading Australian obesity experts have called on Cricket Australia to end its sponsorship arrangements with KFC saying its strong promotional support for a fast food giant is unhelpful and irresponsible during a childhood obesity epidemic.
The call has been made in a letter published today in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) by the directors of Sydney University's Institute of Obesity, Nutrition & Exercise'.
Professors Stephen Colagiuri and Ian Caterson say 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.
In their letter to the MJA the obesity experts say:
"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.
"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.
"KFC products have caloric and fat contents which are well above that recommended for a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet1. It is ironic that Cricket Australia, while having done so much for the sport, regrettably encourages the promotion of unhealthy, high fat, high calorie KFC products which more than negate any benefit of the increased physical activity associated with playing cricket.
"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 said.
Research shows Australia is experiencing an epidemic of overweight and obesity, which is especially affecting children, adolescents and young adults. The problem is worsening as a direct result of unhealthy eating habits and low levels of physical activity. Obesity is associated with chronic and costly diseases which lead to premature death and ill health. These include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, sleep apnoea, certain cancers, mental illness and osteoarthritis which start to appear in adolescence.
A copy of the letter "KFC Sponsorship of cricket" can be viewed at the Medical Journal of Australia website.
Contact: Felicity Moffatt, Health Communications Australia
Phone: 0418 677 701