U.S. national sports teams are often sponsored by companies that promote unhealthy foods and beverages, exposing youth to televised marketing campaigns that may influence them into making poor diet choices, according to a study published in the April 2018 Pediatrics.
The study, "Sports Sponsorships of Food and Nonalcoholic Beverages" (published online March 26), analyzed the sponsorships of 10 sports organizations and found that the nation's football league had the most food and beverage sponsors, followed by the national hockey league and youth baseball.
Researchers analyzed nutritional information for all products shown in sponsorship ads and established the high prevalence of partnerships between sports organizations and brand name sponsors that advertised non-nutritious foods and sugar-filled drinks. Poor diet is a significant driver of childhood obesity and is associated with serious illnesses, prompting concern among public health experts who call for policies that limit the marketing of unhealthy foods. The study notes that children watched telecasts associated with the top-10 sports organizations more than 412 million times in 2015.
The authors conclude that sports organizations could develop more health-conscious policies that prohibit partnerships with companies that primarily promote unhealthy products or limit food marketing to the company's healthiest products.
Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org: