Sport should not be used to promote unhealthy behaviour

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Governments and sports organisations need to tackle the promotion of unhealthy behaviours at events such as the World Cup and 2012 London Olympics, state the authors of a Comment in this week's issue of The Lancet.

In their Comment, Jeff Collin (University of Edinburgh, UK) and Ross MacKenzie (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK) highlight the many tensions that currently exit between international sport and health promotion. They point to the Federation International de Football Association (FIFA), who have abandoned their prohibition of smoking in stadiums for the 2006 World Cup and include branded lighters and ashtrays among their official merchandise. They also note that FIFA, the English Football Association (FA), and the 2012 London Olympic Games have McDonald's as one of their official corporate partners. Given the significance of obesity as a health problem such associations are highly questionable, write the authors.

Dr Collin states: "The 2012 London Olympics will require over 2.3 billion in public investment, an undertaking justified in part via the claim to provide a legacy for health. The Games aim to inspire 'a new generation to greater sporting activity and achievement, helping foster a healthy and active nation', an ambition we find difficult to reconcile with the presence of McDonald's and Coca-Cola as official sponsors."

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Contact: Dr Jeff Collin, Centre for International Public Health Policy, School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh, Medical Buildings, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG. T): +44 (0) 131 651 3961 jeff.collin@ed.ac.uk


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Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson