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“Examine community views of unhealthy sport sponsorship, including government policy responses to minimise youth’s exposure to such sponsorships”


A sport is an integral part of human life and it is extremely healthy and beneficial to maintain the fitness levels in any individual. It is basically a form of physical exertion and skill in which individuals or teams compete with one another for fun and also for the purpose of entertainment. There are several national and international events annually or half-yearly or even once in four years to encourage sport and give it the necessary importance. In events which are organised by major clubs or sports organisations, there are numerous businesses which provide the necessary funding for the sports, be it Olympics or any other specific sporting event. Sponsorship is actually a situation when a business provides certain funds, resources and even association to the respective club. The club also provides them with certain rights and associations in turn which might prove helpful for the business commercially. These might be in forms of advertisements or logos or any other forms of making known the sports event they are supporting.

Sponsorships of sport offer companies an avenue to expose the children and young people to their brand and encourage a connection and identification with a brand. It also enables children and young people to influence the spending patterns of their parents which in turn has the potential to foster brand-loyal, life ling customers.

Clubs develop their identities and culture over several years, sometimes for even decades and are shaped according to the nature of their choices. It is necessary for other sporting codes in order to reconsider their sponsorship arrangements with the unhealthy products and also seek the ethical sponsorships in the interest of the public good rather than simply the revenue.

The methods for the systematic review are discussed with regard to the inclusion criteria as well as the search strategy.

The systematic review was concerned with sources which were published currently between the years 2012 to 2017. Those studies which included the information on the nature of the unhealthy food and those available in the sports settings were considered for the study. Though the inclusion criteria were broad, the studies which were related to the benefits of food and nutrition on the sport performance are excluded.

The search conducted for articles and sources for the systematic review included the scholarly sources. Google scholar was used to find suitable journals, blogs, articles which were based on the given topic at hand. The relevance and the accuracy of the articles were justified before referring and drawing information from them. All the fourteen articles are relevant to the topic and help in throwing light on the topic as well as in reaching a valid conclusion.

The results related to the survey are discussed and the nature of the documents, the physical environment, the economic environment, the political environment, the socio-cultural environment is all discussed in detail as follows:

For any topic of systematic review it is desirable that the nature of the documents is scholarly and relevant to the topic on which the discussion is to be conducted. The documents collected are basically scholarly articles, pdfs, journal articles and other newspaper and online sources as well. The documents are all related to the situation in Australia and pertain to the situation of the sport sponsorships in Australia. Thus it can be said that the nature of the documents are genuine and pertain to the requirements of the systematic review.


The physical environment is an essential determinant of how the unhealthy sponsorships impact the health of the children. The promotion of the physical activity and the link with such activities with the sponsorships might impact the minds of the children. Organised forms of sport offer several chances and ample scope for promotion of physical activity and also health promotion activities to a vast number of children. In particular it can be said that the restriction of sponsorships of children’s sport by unhealthy food and beverage companies or even their promotional activities is an extremely important message of the sporting clubs which need to be performed in order to reinforce healthy eating messages. It is to be logically understood that no sort of funding difficulties would occur if there is restriction imposed on unhealthy food and beverage company sponsorships. This is because this sort of funding represents a very small proportion of the total income base despite the fact that it provides vast number of opportunities for the sponsors (11).

The high participation rates in the formal sport and consistent pairing of the recommendations which link the physical activity and the healthy eating suggest that sports settings might be ideal locations for encouraging improved amount of nutrition. The studies have shown that healthy sponsorship funding can create healthier environments in sports clubs (6).

Although the elite sports people understand the fact that the role diet plays a significant role in enhancing their performance. The sponsorship relationships between the sporting organisations and food and beverage brands and companies do not always reinforce either the sports related or more generalised nutritional recommendations. The sports sponsorships associate consumption of energy-dense nutrient poor food with high performance sport. The elite people consume and endorse the foods. It actually consumes energy dense nutrient poor foods which is consistent with outstanding sporting performance. It clearly challenges as well as undermines the nutritional advice from the health and dietary professionals (14).

The majority of the sponsorship providing companies produce items which are unhealthy and not proper for use. The messages shown in the advertisements do not mention anything about the nutritional advice from health and dietary professionals. A few numbers of studies have investigated the characteristics and the investigation of sport. The studies have clearly shown that majority of the companies did not meet the criteria as healthy. Majority of the sponsors are food companies which promote the consumption of unhealthy food items (13).

It can be said that unhealthy sponsorship has infiltrated all levels of sport. The main food sponsors in case of the Olympics are the junk food giants Coca Cola, Cadbury and Mc Donald’s. The junk food and drink sponsors were those companies which made the unhealthiest products. Mc Donald’s was most responsible for the connectivity to the majority of sports. The sponsors provided majority of products welcome packs and even branded uniforms with equipment (13).

The development programs at the junior level were adult sports’ modified versions and those were set up to potentially modify the adult sports and also facilitate the participation and also a lifelong interest in the sports (14). 

Nature of documents

The rates of childhood obesity are immensely high and the need for any sort of sponsorship with the junk food businesses is absolutely unnecessary. It is not unknown that children are influenced by food brands and children have the power to recall the sponsors which are related to sport. According to the children, the sponsors are connected to the different forms of sport and they feel that buying a product would help them return a sort of favour to the sponsors (6).

Political environment and its impact is also very important. The Cancer council is extremely concerned and rather worried about junk food marketing as it vastly influences the children’s food preferences. The food they ask their parents to buy is also influenced by it. Majority of obese children are likely to grow up as obese adults which might expose them to eleven different forms of cancers. These forms of unhealthy sponsorships are in stark contrast with the healthy lifestyle which children are asked to maintain by their families or at school. The Cancer Council desires that the marketing of unhealthy products are regulated and unhealthy sport sponsors should not be encouraged (7).

The government also has a significant role to play in the withdrawal of sports sponsorships by ensuring that they be stopped so that they do not continue to negatively influence the children and cause severe harms to their day to day life. It should also be done to lessen their allegiance to any type of junk food which might pave the way for future illnesses of severe nature which might even cause cancer (14).

According to the Supreme Court the kids lack the capabilities of rational decision making and therefore leads to the conclusion that they often make wrong choices which might severely impact their lives and the effects of these might not be possible to be altered. Also the Supreme Court mentions that any sort of misleading advertising is a cause of propagation of wrong messages and wrong sorts of ideas and therefore should be banned without any major forms of thought or discussion. It is obvious for the consumers to pay attention to rational and deliberate processing of information put forward in the advertisements and finally make decisions related to purchase based on the information available to them. Both emotional as well as informational marketing are utilised in order to appeal to the consumers and assist them in their purchase decisions (12).

The government should however weed out all sorts of negativity concerning food items so that no health hazards or serious diseases occur as a result of such misleading information presented in sponsorships on unhealthy food items.

It is necessary for the authorities to stop the most negative sponsorships and ask the companies to restrict their advertisements so that they do not show anything wrong that might impact the minds of the children in a negative way.

Different types of companies sponsor sports and the activation of sports sponsorship is a method by which corporate sponsors investments can be leveraged in sports properties. Basically in certain situations corporate sponsors form alliances by strategic planning majorly due to the reason of the marketing of various goods and services. It is crucial to find the correct type of sponsors for the company in order to understand whether they are suitable enough for the sport event concerned. Sponsorship is basically a singular aspect of clubs which aims to potentially influence them and also their participants. Sponsorship also influences brand awareness and the attitudes so that the sponsorship of the brands might influence the contribution of companies to unhealthy food habits and food preferences. The nature and extent of food sponsorships on kids watching the sports is also significant (1).

The physical environment

In light of the several sponsorship programmes it is necessary to understand that there are certain sponsorships which are of companies whose products are not healthy enough for consumption especially by children. Therefore it is necessary to limit the exposure of such sponsorships to children so that they do not impact the minds of the children negatively and do not cause severe health hazards (9). It is the duty of the sports companies to ensure the sponsorships do not negatively impact the children and their mindsets towards unhealthy food consumption. It often happens that children get impacted by their influential campaigns thus resulting in their unhealthy food consumption. This causes severe issues related to the children’s health and thus the responsibility of the proper management of the sponsorships needs to be taken seriously (2).

Children are a major target for all the advertising campaigns as their minds are easy to influence and they in turn influence their parents and their spending on such unhealthy items. In many cases children also have their own habits of spending and they have the chances as well as the potential of becoming brand loyal as well as lifelong customers of the particular brands. It is obvious that the sponsorship of development programs offer the chance to companies to expose their brand products to children and also foster a connection between their brand and its products with the children. Studies reveal that children aged between five to twelve considered the team sports to be associated with the messages and their products which were promoted by the sponsors of the team. It also showed that the sponsorships and branding of sports can influence the overall product recall value and are responsible for enhancing the attitude of the children towards the sponsor as well. Children aged ten to fourteen considered the companies which sponsored their favourite teams and clubs as cool (5).

The situation related to these unhealthy sports sponsorships and the children’s health is significant in Australia specifically. The proportion of children in Australia who are obese or even overweight is increasing. This is a cause of huge concern for the people, the parents as well as for the government. There are several complex causes for this which primarily is the children’s exposure to high marketing levels of unhealthy food. This also happens in case of several soft drinks and aerated drinks which the children consume and ask for. There are several ways in which the children are exposed to unhealthy marketing of food and other sponsorships (3).

The impact of the sponsorships of sports affects the image of the company more so in case it is unhealthy. The unhealthy sponsorships impact the organisations specifically those which are non profit in nature. The stock values are also impacted. The organisations need to choose the sponsorship programmes and advertisements wisely so that it does not impact their image (7).

 A significant form of unhealthy food and drink marketing is that of sport sponsorships. It is being seen that sports sponsorships are being used increasingly in order to market the unhealthy drinks and food items to the children. Despite the fact that sports sponsorships are crucial for the development and proper implementation of sports activities the sponsoring by manufacturers of unhealthy food and drinks might cause harm to the health promoting goals of sport. These might even undo the health benefits that are gained by the kids in participating in sport and also help to reinforce the unhealthy eating habits which are difficult to undo and in severe cases might even last throughout one’s lifetime (4).

The economic environment

The level of unhealthy sport sponsorships is so high that eight out of ten food and beverage sponsors of the children’s sport developments are considered to be unhealthy.

The Olympics are the most important target for the unhealthy sponsorship of sports. It is basically due to the reason that more or less everybody watches sports and the exposure of te companies is maximum (14).

The main argument for sponsorship is the fact that the required amount of funding is provided by it. It is required to understand that the views of society change over time and the sports organisations need to understand that their thoughtfulness and decisions are reflected in the way they organise and run their club. According to the Children’s code for advertising states that food ads should in no way lower the food and nutrition policies in compliance with the ministry of health with regard to the health and wellbeing of children (8).

According to popular nutritionists, parents need not take an extreme approach during encouraging their kids to eat healthy. Small steps should be taken towards healthy eating. Instead of fundraising with high sugar, trans-fat laden food, companies should focus on providing something comparatively healthy. Healthy food needs to be normalised and not called healthy unnecessarily. Companies producing healthy food need to be actually thought of as sponsors for sports. Basically sports clubs have loads of things to consider before saying no to big companies. The impact of saying no to big companies has a probability of affecting them negatively in future. The future of clubs needs to be secured and for this reason the healthy sponsorships need to be encouraged but in no way can the clubs neglect the noteworthy business groups (9).

There have many instances in which the company authorities have mustered the courage to stop the unhealthy sponsorships of the products but though their thoughts have been initiated in that direction they could not be successfully completed as the lure of the cash of the sponsors outweighed any sort of considerations about the rising levels of obesity and other concerns (10).

Another aspect of campaigning that works in favour of the huge companies and businesses is their free campaigns and offering of free samples to the people especially the kids. This is due to the reason that the unhealthy products are reaching the public at every possible opportunity in order to make a mark upon them and not to leave their minds in any way (12).

The fact that parents are genuinely worried about sport sponsorships are supported by academic research. This is because of their well shown efforts to encourage their children to eat healthy. It is not unknown that reviews and systematic surveys by the Food standards agency and several other health bodies show clearly that the promotions of junk food and their free samples at every possible opportunity has led to the risks of serious types of illness in childhood as well as later on in life (11).

The sponsorships in Olympics make it worse. The healthier alternatives beyond the Mc Donald’s Coca-cola as well as Cadbury’s are not even considered by the children. The sponsors attempt to hide or somewhat sugar coat their involvement in important games with even greater sports and schemes of exercise which according to them are responsible for making the children more and more active. It can however be said that there is very little evidence that these short term pushes will make the children physically active or anyhow increase their physical activity levels. One major fact can never be neglected by the companies that no amount of free games and sponsorships can make unhealthy food items any way less unhealthy. This is the main reason why the popular junk food brands are such unsuitable sponsors for the sports of different categories. The games are extremely valuable for the sponsors and therefore they always seek to protect their privileged position. Their relationship should not be imbalanced at any point of time. Huge amount of profits are obtained from the broadcasting rights as also from the sponsorship deals and it also remains curiously reluctant to demand more and more from its sponsors globally (11).

The political environment

The popular sponsorship companies ensure that they are brands to reckon with in all the famous games all over the world and due to this reason they are extremely reluctant to move away from such famous sports all over the world (12).

In order to maximise the benefits delivered by sponsorship, many marketers augment investment in teams, individuals or events with additional advertising and also the marketing support. These additional activities enhance the brand associations created through the sponsorships and extent the achieved reach. There is also a frequent amount of exposure to the advertising that supports the sponsorship and it reminds the customers of the brand associations and increases the brand recall, purchase intentions and actual purchase. The sponsorships illustrate the brand associations and the vicarious learning promotes, stimulates and reinforces the behaviour (12).

The brands and their advertisements aim to connect the players’ athleticism and high performance with the consumption of the sponsor’s products and the implied use of the featured brands. The extent of the food and beverage marketing in the sports settings might underestimate the extent of sporting which might lead to the misconceptions in the minds of the viewers especially children (11).

The systematic review has its strengths in its accuracy and the relation of the journals to the present times. The limitations of the sources are not from all possible popular sources and hence there are fewer opportunities for comparison among studies.

Also in order to correct the potentially misleading and harmful messages the media literacy programmes as well as the nutritional education are utilised in order to teach children about the persuasive intent of advertising. In addition to this they should also be taught about the importance of having a healthy diet. It has been found that in many cases the food preferences of young people are not always related to educational beliefs but are determined to a large extent by the nature of their taste (8).

Though people state and believe that government needs to undertake steps in order to issue messages and increase awareness among the people in the form of disclaimers before any advertisement of sports sponsorships and unhealthy food items it has been revealed that the people have only become more and more aware about the issue but their preferences have not changed. Watching of such unhealthy food advertisements is permissible only when the youth have the capability of resisting their urges to buy and consume unhealthy food items (9).

It needs to be understood that the children are bound to follow what the advertisements state and hence parental guidance is necessary. In case the children get the required guidance they can differentiate between what is right and what is wrong and because of this they can do whatever is right and take the genuine decisions which they should.


The obesity as well as the growing amount of unhealthy children is an area which needs to be improved as it has reached the level of an epidemic. The nature of the marketing also needs to be improved in order to properly cater to the people for which it is meant. It needs to be remembered that the businessmen and the club owners are correct in their own rights but nothing is more valuable than the lives of the people and hence necessary steps should be taken to ensure the health of the children such that the unhealthy sport sponsorships do not ruin their future lives.

Unhealthy food and also beverage brands continue to sponsor sport. A little segment of the people support their sponsorships with the marketing activities that directly encourage the consumer purchases and maintain the brand salience. These sponsorships of high profile regularly televised sports provide a repetitive amount of brand exposure which have a chance of supporting favourable brand attribute associations.

Change is clearly needed to shift the focus away from the visual presence of unhealthy sponsorships at the time of ensuring that the sports clubs remain commercially viable. There have been several demonstration projects at the local level in order to reduce the unhealthy sponsorship of sports.

The restriction of the unhealthy food sponsorships is supported by the sporting community and the policy change is necessary to reduce the impact which is perceived regarding the different aspects of marketing. Alternative mechanisms of funding have the potential to maintain the funding related to sports and reducing the promotional opportunities. There are alternative funding the mechanisms have the potential to maintain the sport funding at the time of reducing the promotional opportunities for the unhealthy food and related issues.


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  8. Kelly B, King, MPsy L, Chapman, MND K, Boyland E, Bauman AE, Baur LA. A hierarchy of unhealthy food promotion effects: identifying methodological approaches and knowledge gaps. American journal of public health. 2015 Apr;105(4):e86-95.
  9. Knai C, Petticrew M, Mays N. The childhood obesity strategy. BMJ (Clinical research ed). 2016;354:i4613.
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  13. Sport sponsorship lends halo to supplements and sports drinks. 2014. The Conversation. Retrieved 17 October 2017, from
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