Wales politics

London 2012: 'Break fast food link with Olympics' says medical chief

The sponsorship of big sports events such as the Olympics by fast food and alcohol brands has been questioned by Wales' chief medical officer.

Dr Tony Jewell said he wanted to "break the links" between sports and fast food, fizzy drinks and alcohol.

"Top athletes do not succeed by consuming burgers, chips and cola, or binge drinking," he said.

Dr Jewell made the remarks in his final annual report published ahead of his planned resignation over the summer.

And a ban on super-sized soft drinks proposed by the Mayor of New York was worth considering in Wales, he added.

In the run up to the Olympics, he said more than half the population of Wales are overweight, or obese, and a third do no or very little physical activity.

The diet and lifestyle causes of largely avoidable conditions such as type two diabetes and high blood pressure had to be addressed, he said.

"As McDonald's prepare to open its largest restaurant in the world in the heart of the Olympic Park and sponsors Coca-Cola ramp up their advertising campaigns, I want us to consider the links between sports events, brands that promote fast food and drink, and our eating habits," he said.

He highlighted the case of tobacco advertising which was now unthinkable at sporting events.

"Whilst the powers to ban fast food advertising are not devolved to Wales I believe we need to break the links between sporting achievement, alcohol, fizzy soft drinks and fast foods," he added.

"Top athletes do not succeed by consuming burgers, chips and cola, or binge drinking.

"Like smoking, they do nothing to improve sporting prowess, and consumed regularly, contribute to obesity and related health problems.

"There is much to do to tackle obesity, and stating clearly that fast food has no place in sport, sends a clear message."

A McDonald's spokeswoman said the company would be serving "high quality British food quickly and safely" at the Olympics, as well as helping train more than 70,000 volunteers.

"Sponsorship is essential to the successful staging of the Olympics and Paralympics," she added.

"We recognise that public health issues like obesity are complex matters that cannot be solved by governments or companies alone.

"Ultimately it's up to individuals to make the right food, drink, and activity choices for themselves and our broad range of menu options in a variety of sizes, together with the nutrition information, means that customers can make more informed choices."

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