Research by the University of Sydney has found that a majority of elite athletes would not stand behind their promotion of alcohol and junk food. This conclusion comes from an examination of almost 2000 elite athletes’ perceptions about their role in health promotion.


The study which will be published in the April issue of Health Promotion Journal of Australia found that 91.5 percent of elite athletes shows a strong disinclination to promoting alcohol and junk food. Still, this was measured at an individual level, acceptance was higher for sports as a marketing vehicle for these products in general.

Younger, amateur and female athletes were less supportive of unhealthy product promotion than older, male, team and professional athletes

‘Building on the resistance of elite athletes to promoting alcohol and junk food could transform the use of sport in sponsorship and advertising,’ said Dr Anne Grunseit from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney.

Dr. Grunseit explains the difference between the attitudes of the athletes and the fact that alcohol and junk food sponsorship is widely prevalent in sports as a ‘passive tolerance’ through ‘the perceived need for the sporting industry to be able to continue to earn money’. (…) ‘If encouraged, the personal resistance of many of these elites to the promotion of unhealthy products in sport may translate to a lower likelihood of their celebrity endorsement of those products as they become more successful and well-known.’

The survey also showed that while low numbers of athletes reported tobacco use and takeaway food consumption, a high proportion reported binge drinking.

Source: University of Sydney 04/05/12

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