#SummerOfJunkFoodAds: Food Active and the Children’s Food Campaign team up to find out parents’ views on the marketing of less healthy food and drink in sport

#SummerOfJunkFoodAds: Food Active and the Children’s Food Campaign team up to find out parents’ views on the marketing of less healthy food and drink in sport

To mark the launch of the long-awaited EURO 2020 tournament, Food Active and the Children’s Food Campaign are launching a new survey to hear what parents’ think about the marketing of less healthy food and drink through sport.

Coca-Cola and the EUROs. McDonalds and the Olympics. Lionel Messi and Pepsi. Peter Crouch and Just Eat. Red Bull and Formula 1. KP Nuts and Cricket. Any of this ring a bell?

If you watch sport, most likely. And even if you don’t, you can’t escape the marketing of less healthy food and drink products. It’s everywhere – from sponsorship of high profile, regularly televised sports via pitch side banners, television adverts, individual sponsorship deals with athletes, to on-pack competitions to win tickets or meet players, to even sponsoring children’s sticker book collections.

And when a Summer of Sport arrives, junk food marketing goes into a serious frenzy. Less healthy food and drink brands quickly jump on the tournament bandwagon seeking to maximise their profits by taking advantage of these large-scale events, at the expense of our health and wellbeing. And importantly, a significant proportion of viewers sat on the edge of their seats waiting to digest elite sport are children and young people. This summer features a plethora of exciting sporting events, many of which have been postponed from last year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic including the EUROs, Wimbledon, The Hundred and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. But will it be the Summer of Sport, or the Summer of #JunkFoodAds?


Parents, carers, and guardians – we want to hear what YOU think!

Food Active and the Children’s Food Campaign have teamed up and want to find out what UK parents, carers, and guardians (specifically those with children under 18) think about this type of marketing, whether it creates issues for them and whether they think there should be any restrictions in place to control this type of marketing. The survey opens on Friday 11th June and will close on Sunday 5th September. The findings of the survey will be used to inform a report, which will be published on respective websites (all answers will remain anonymous).

Parents and their families do not have to watch sport to take part – we are still interested to hear your thoughts on whether they see this an issue and the impact on children and young people more generally.

The survey should take around 10-15 minutes to complete and those who submit a survey response by Sunday 5th September will be entered into an exciting prize draw to win a Love2Shop voucher – which can be redeemed in over 20,000 stores, restaurants, and attractions! There is one chance to win £50 Love2Shop voucher, 5 chances to win a £20 voucher and 5 chances to win a £10 voucher. UK residents only.

If you can help us share the survey in your local area, please get in touch with us and we can share a Communications Pack with you. Please email info@foodactive.org.uk

Why do we care?

By partnering with sports organisations, HFSS brands are attempting to associate their unhealthy products with a healthy and active lifestyle, thereby avoiding public and media scrutiny over their contribution to rising levels of overweight and obesity.

Furthermore, repeat brand exposure for less healthy food and drink brands and contributes to the ‘obesogenic’ environment, fostering loyalty amongst consumers, creating confusion around what constitutes a healthy or unhealthy product and encouraging the purchase of less healthy food and drink[1],[2].

Although the UK Government are taking action on HFSS marketing to children and young people, including a 9pm watershed on TV and similar restrictions online[3], marketing via sport has flown largely under the radar. However, at a recent Gresham College Lecture, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty suggested that it is was ‘unhelpful’ to associate ‘calorie-dense’ with sport – particularly for children and young people [4].


Will it be the Summer of Sport or #SummerOfJunkFoodAds? Tweet/tag us your pics!

We are also encouraging anyone to tweet/tag us in photos of junk food brands using sport to market their products! Below are some examples that we have found already! Keep an eye out on the TV, social media, billboards, bus stops and food and drink packaging and help us collect as much evidence we can over the Summer of Sport. Don’t forget to share any examples of sport being using to promote healthy food too – we can use this as examples of good practice.

Make sure you tag us using the following credentials and use the hashtags #SummerOfJunkFoodAds

  • Twitter: @food_active @childrensfood
  • Facebook: @foodactiveheg @childrensfood



[1] http://obesityhealthalliance.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Junk-Food-Marketing-Evidence-Briefing-FINAL.pdf

[2] http://obesityhealthalliance.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/JFM-Impact-on-Adults-Boyland-May-2019-final-002.pdf

[3] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-obesity-government-strategy/tackling-obesity-empowering-adults-and-children-to-live-healthier-lives

[4] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2021/03/25/professor-chris-whitty-uses-telegraph-investigation-condemn/

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