235057 “Food company sponsors are kind, generous and cool”: (Mis)conceptions of junior sports players

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bridget Kelly, MPH , Prevention Research Collaboration, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Louise Baur, PhD , Prevention Research Collaboration, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Adrian Bauman, PhD , Prevention Research Collaboration, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Lesley King, MPsych , Prevention Research Collaboration, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Kathy Chapman, MND , Health Strategies, Cancer Council NSW, Sydney, Australia
Ben Smith, PhD , Department of Health Social Science, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
Introduction: Children's exposure to unhealthy food marketing contributes to the obesity-promoting environment. Globally, sponsorship is one of the fastest growing forms of marketing exceeding US$45 billion in commercial value. This study assessed Australian children's perceptions of sport sponsors and the junior sporting community's attitudes towards sponsorship. Methods: Sports clubs (n=20) known to have food company sponsors and representing the most popular sports for Australian children across a range of demographic areas were recruited. Interviews were conducted at clubs with parents (n=200), children aged 10-14 (n=103) and sports officials (n=20), and with governing associations of participating clubs (n=20). Questionnaires measured children's awareness of sponsors and subsequent product purchase and consumption intentions. Parents' and officials' support for policies to restrict unhealthy food company sport sponsorship was assessed. Results: Most children (68%) could recall sponsors of their club; with children naming a median of two sponsors each, including one food sponsor. Children thought food companies sponsored sport to help out clubs (85%), perceived food sponsors as ‘cool' (69%), and liked to return the favor by buying sponsor's products (59%). Children aged 10-11 were more likely to think about sponsors when buying something to eat/drink compared to older children (P=0.005). Fifty percent of officials and 70% of parents supported restrictions to children's sport sponsorship. Discussion: Food company sponsorship influences children's brand awareness and attitudes, potentially contributing to poor eating habits. Restricting unhealthy food company sport sponsorship is supported by the junior sporting community and is required to reduce the promotional effects of this marketing.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Assess the effects of food company sport sponsorship on children’s brand awareness, preferences and purchase intentions. 2. Identify the junior sporting community’s attitudes to food company sport sponsorship and support of policy interventions to limit this marketing. 3. Discuss the potential mechanisms to replace unhealthy food company sport sponsorship that are acceptable to the sporting community while maintaining the viability of sport.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Marketing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conduct research and teach at the university level in the area of public health nutrition, particularly relating to the creation of healthy food environments. I am also completing a PhD on sport sponsorship to children.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.