Doctors condemn Olympic athletes' endorsement of junk food

RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada has joined leading health professionals ahead of the London 2012 Olympics to condemn sports stars who advertise junk food.

Professor Clare Gerada: Olympics is chance to promote health

In a letter to The Times today, doctors and teachers joined celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in criticising role models for their endorsement of unhealthy foods.

Professor Gerada said that on the eve of the Olympics, athletes should be showcasing the importance of health and fitness.

‘It might be timely to remind athletes therefore of the power that they have when endorsing junk food which contributes to our rising levels of obesity, especially among our children,’ said Professor Gerada.

Professor Terence Stephenson, past president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: ‘The Olympic organisers should seek to renegotiate sponsorship for future games.’

The letter acknowledges that celebrity sponsorship deals are worth millions of pounds, but health professionals and teachers urge sporting role models to think about the adverse effect that their endorsements have on the lives of children.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist in London, said: ‘The very lucrative financial gain for these athletes is sadly at the expense of our children’s health and we shall not allow this to continue.’

The letter calls on celebrities to think of the physical, social and emotional effects of obesity that the consumption of the products they advertise is causing.

Charlie Powell, director of the Children’s Food Campaign, said: ‘It is highly disingenuous to try to present unhealthy foods in a positive light by linking them with our sporting celebrities.’

According to Dr Hilary Cass, president of the RCPCH: ‘Instead of glamorising junk food, athletes should be using their influence to inspire children and young people to become tomorrow’s top athletes by eating well and leading active lifestyles.’

‘With celebrity status comes responsibility,’ Dr Cass adds.

Steve Iredale, president of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘I would ask those involved to reflect carefully on the potential consequences of their actions and instead work together to help to improve the health and life chances of those who are so vulnerable.’

Editor's blog: Success (or failure) of Olympics and NHS commercialisation depends on us

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in


  • Clinical Lead Menlo Park Recruitment East Riding of Yorkshire
  • Clinical Lead Menlo Park Recruitment Cottingham
  • Private GP Menlo Park Recruitment Tunbridge Wells
  • GP Partner Menlo Park Recruitment Fareham
  • GP Tuakau Health Centre New Zealand (Tuakau - Franklin Region)

Just published

BMA chair Professor Phil Banfield

BMA urges Lords to block legislation for GMC to regulate PAs

The BMA has urged peers to block legislation that would make the GMC responsible...

Patient satisfaction screen

How a GP practice worked with patients to stop a torrent of complaints

A GP practice has seen complaints drop from 50-plus a day to just four in 10 months...

British Army soldiers marching

How the NHS Op COURAGE service can help support veterans

Armed forces veterans often have unique health needs. Clinical staff from London...

GP consultation

Continuity of care would save millions of GP appointments each year, new study finds

GP workload would be significantly reduced if continuity of care was prioritised...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Visa sponsor shortage threatens GP workforce, locum GPs struggle to find work, record appointments

The GPonline team discusses the key news stories affecting general practice in our...

RCGP sign

RCGP condemns threat to retention funding as third of GPs consider quitting

Funding for GP retention risks being stripped away to cover other financial pressures...