Alfayad, K., Murray, R.L., Britton, J., Barker, A.B. (2022). Population exposure to alcohol and junk food advertising during the 2018 FIFA world cup: implications for public health. BMC Public Health, 22(1), 908. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-13233-6.


Background: Advertising alcoholic drinks and food high in fat, sugar, and salt (HFSS) is a driver of alcohol use and HFSS consumption, among children and young people. Whilst advertising legislation and broadcasting regulation protect children from alcohol and HFSS imagery, the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which attracted a global audience, was sponsored and partnered by alcohol and HFSS brands. This study investigated the exposure of viewers to HFSS and alcohol imagery in a selection of group matches, and the final match, of the FIFA 2018 World Cup.

Methods: The frequency and duration of appearances (to the nearest second) of branding from two sponsors (McDonald’s and Budweiser), one official partner (Coca-Cola) and the official sports drink (Powerade) were recorded during all active play in live coverage of a sample of 13 matches (Six in Group A, which included the host nation, Russia, which has stringent alcohol promotion regulations in place; six in Group G, which featured England; and the final) broadcast in the UK. We used census and viewing data to calculate gross and per capita impressions generated by this imagery in the UK population.

Results: The 13 matches included 1262 min of active play and a total of 1806 appearances of alcohol and HFSS food advertisements, delivering approximately 7.5 billion branded HFSS impressions, including 759 million to children (age < 16 years), and 3.3 billion alcohol impressions, including 385 million to children, in the UK. Appearances of HFSS and alcohol brands were not statistically different between the games in either group.

Conclusion: UK advertising legislation and broadcasting regulations intended to prevent exposure to alcohol and HFSS imagery and advertising in UK television was circumvented completely by sponsorship arrangements in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Preventing this exposure therefore requires revision of existing advertising and broadcasting controls to include sponsorship.

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