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Should corporations be made to act more responsibly when choosing sponsors?

With the recent announcement that Coca-Cola (whose classic drink contains nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar per can) are to sponsor the London Eye; is this a responsible thing for the Merlin Group to do given the correlation between unhealthy fizzy drinks and the diabetes epidemic that is sweeping the UK?

This is particularly important as last week’s Diabetes UK annual snapshot indicated that diabetes is the fastest growing health threat in the UK and that the NHS spends 1/10th of its annual budget on managing diabetes patients and the complications that come with it.

This isn’t the first instance of major corporations opting to choose unhealthy products to sponsor their events or services. The FIFA World Cup, the world’s biggest football event, is viewed by hundreds of millions of people all over the world and boasts Coca-Cola and McDonalds amongst its main sponsors.

During the London 2012 Olympics, of which Coca-Cola were also a major sponsor, sales of sugary drinks in the UK increased by 10% in value and 8% in volume, compared with the same period for the previous year. McDonalds, another London 2012 sponsor also saw increased profits during that period when compared with same period in 2011.


As well as diabetes these sponsorships come at a time when the obesity crisis continues to sweep not only Britain but the world.  A survey published in 2012 concluded that over 25% of all adults in the UK are obese, with an additional 41% of men and 33% women in the overweight category.

Additionally, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the rate of worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980. As of 2012 over 1.4 billion adults were overweight or obese and more than 40 million children (under 5 years old) were classed as overweight or obese.

Susan Swithers PhD, a professor in the Department of Health and Sciences at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indian, stated: “Children see these messages everywhere and we know that children are more vulnerable to advertising messages than adults. And for many kids, athletes are role models so unhealthy foods get a boost in the eyes of children through their connection with events like the Olympics.”

Therefore given the above is it correct that major events and attractions are allowed to be sponsored by some of the primary causes of diabetes and obesity, both epidemics that are contributing to the ever-increasing issues that the NHS has to face?

Get in touch and let us know your thoughts using the comments below.