State sports backed by booze, fast food and gambling

BOOZE, gambling and fast food companies are sponsoring almost three quarters of Australia's national and state government-funded sports bodies, prompting renewed concerns about children's exposure to "harmful messages" from such industries.

The University of Sydney research released on Thursday also showed that "unhealthy food and drink sponsors" were the most common, sponsoring almost 50% of Australia's peak sports bodies.

Released at the annual Sports Medicine Australia conference, the findings were based on an "audit" of sponsorship and branding of the major sporting codes' websites.

Sydney School of Public Health's Rona Macniven said the research had revealed a "pervasive level of unhealthy sponsorship across our sporting codes".

"Associating these harmful products with positive aspects of sport normalises associated activities such as gambling, drinking alcohol and consuming fast food and sugary drinks," Ms Macniven said.

Ms Macniven said cricket, both rugby codes, the AFL, basketball and soccer had sponsorship agreements across the alcohol, fast food and sugary drinks and gambling sectors, while cricket alone had the "overall highest proportion of unhealthy sponsors".

Echoing concerns from public health and nutritional advocates, Ms Macniven said the research highlighted a need for new regulations to govern unhealthy messages at sports events.

She said despite the "concerning results" for Australia's biggest sporting codes, some 14 other sports were still "free form unhealthy product branding", showing sports organisations could survive without unhealthy sponsors.

- APN NEWSDESK



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