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Cancer Charity’s concern over Olympic partners:

World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has joined the growing chorus voicing concern over the links between London 2012 and companies such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Cadbury.

The cancer prevention charity fears the marketing of food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt at the Olympics will associate these unhealthy products with the world’s top sporting event.

This may encourage the patterns of consumption at the heart of an obesity epidemic that has seen the UK become Europe’s fattest country.

Jo Jewell, Acting Policy and Public Affairs Manager at WCRF, said: “This marketing-through-sponsorship targets children as well as adults. Unlike adults, children can’t critically judge these marketing tactics, which is why they should be protected from the promotion of unhealthy products.

“It is shame that with all the talk of ‘legacy’, one of the legacies left behind by London 2012 will be the failure to grasp the opportunity of the Olympics to set an example in addressing the UK’s obesity problem. 

“The Olympics is seen as a force for good that boosts involvement in sport, encouraging young people to take part in activities they may not have considered before and providing the facilities to do so. But by promoting unhealthy eating the organisers are undermining these positive developments. 

“We understand the need for corporate sponsors at an event of such scale. All we ask is that future sporting events are not supported by companies whose products have a negative impact on the nation’s health.”

Past studies, including a Food Standards Agency review, have concluded that junk food promotions aimed at children influence their preferences, purchasing behaviour and consumption – increasing the risk of serious illness in later life.

WCRF’s 2009 Policy Report concluded there is a “high level of confidence” that restricting the marketing of unhealthy products to children will have a beneficial impact on their diet.

Being overweight is a major factor in developing cancer in later life. By encouraging healthy eating and physical activity during childhood, the charity hopes individuals will carry these habits into adulthood.

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