The Official Disease of the 2012 London Olympics!

The sponsors for the 2012 London Olympics have been presented, to quite a bit of controversy.

Here are a few of them:

Official Restaurant: McDonald’s

Official Treat Provider: Cadbury’s Chocolate

Yes, that’s chocolate gold medals!

Official Drink: Coca Cola

A joke?

This isn’t a joke, it just sounds like one. Junk food, sugar sweetened beverages and chocolate are proudly sponsoring the 2012 Olympic Games.

I think there’s only one thing missing:

Official Disease: Juvenile Type 2 Diabetes

Sold out

Perhaps Londoners should feel ashamed of their Olympics selling out. This in the middle of an obesity epidemic, where England already is the most obese country in Europe.

Is this what the Olympics should be about? What do you say?

 

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44 Comments

Top Comments

  1. Ondrej,
    It's not about "blaming carbs". It's about recommending what's been proven to work.
    Read more →
  2. I say it's our own fault. I'm sure the IOC would love to take sponsor monies from Real Food producers but we haven't chosen to empower those entities with our food dollars. It isn't the Olympics job to teach us the dangers of sugar. I think they miss a huge opportunity to put those dangers in perspective for us but, in the end, they are a business; just like our healthcare system (privatized or not). It all comes down to somebody paying the bills. We've kicked the can down the road after WWII in artificially low food costs. Now the bill is to be paid at the doctors office. Unfortunately, those whom we empowered in the food industry are the only ones there to pay the bill.
    Read more →

All Comments

  1. I say it's our own fault. I'm sure the IOC would love to take sponsor monies from Real Food producers but we haven't chosen to empower those entities with our food dollars. It isn't the Olympics job to teach us the dangers of sugar. I think they miss a huge opportunity to put those dangers in perspective for us but, in the end, they are a business; just like our healthcare system (privatized or not). It all comes down to somebody paying the bills. We've kicked the can down the road after WWII in artificially low food costs. Now the bill is to be paid at the doctors office. Unfortunately, those whom we empowered in the food industry are the only ones there to pay the bill.
  2. While I don't disagree that most of what you have pictured is terrible for a person's diet, I also have to point out that people at the Olympics have a choice as to what to put into their mouth. I really have no problem with the food industry sponsoring anything.

    There are two bigger issues that I see.

    1. Governments and regulatory bodies making dietary recommendations based on incomplete science and a flawed understanding of human nutrition.

    2. The near unavoidably of highly refined carbohydrates in the food supply.

    At the very least I feel that governments should 'right the wrong' in terms of the misinformation they've provided for the last food decades. They could either stop giving dietary advice (my personal preference), or they could revise their dietary guidelines.

    To go a bit further, and I'm not sure I 100% agree with this, we could implement some program to get added sugar out of our food supply.

    But I think having a more well informed (or rather, not deliberately misinformed) populace makes regulation less necessary.

  3. Tia
    The 3rd part of BBC report "The men who made us fat" refers to this topic, among others.
    Now available on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMBwVb6v0FQ
  4. Elwin Ransom
    For the most part, I agree with Mike B.

    The only thing I can add to that is that when I see a picture like you have here of the children is that I blame the parents of those children - not the child.
    When I was that age, I would have eaten at McDonald's EVERY DAY, if my parents had allowed it.

    So in the long run, I don't blame the corporate sponsors.
    I blame the government misinformation being spread, and the parents for not teaching their children restraint and moderation.

    And when ever I can, I recommend Tom Naughton's film "Fat Head".
    I either point them to Hulu to watch it for free, or I loan them my copy of the DVD. It changed my mind, and set me on the path to PROPER nutritional habits, and eventually to this site, too.

  5. at least its "promoting activity"
    its all about who can pay the bills, and they want advertising in return...and promoting junk food in big scale! these industries are RICH and reflect what most people spend their money on!
    cant see myself the dairy, meat or vegetable industry paying for olympics, they cant afford?
  6. John Myers
    I wish I had taken a picture of a sign I saw at Safeway (a major grocery store chain in the United States) - when checking out, the cashier asked if I'd like to donate money to prostate cancer research.
    The sign at checkout said that if the cashier fails to ask for a donation then I would get a free 2 liter bottle of Coke.
    Pretty amazing.
  7. Trina
    The Men Who Made Us Fat episode 3 is now available http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMBwVb6v0FQ&feature=player_embedded. I don't think your links to episodes 1 and 2 are working anymore.

    The photo of those children is truly heartbreaking.

  8. I think allowing Pepsi, MacDonalds and Cadbury's to be sponsors of the Olympics is gross, wrong and totally irresponsible, but not at all surprising, of our UK Government.

    There was a programme on Channel 4 a few days ago showing how in our country, the food industry is marketing high sugar, processed junk foods as healthy and good for us and the Government is doing very little to regulate the industry. They pay more attention the food industry lobbyists than they do to the genuine health needs of the British people.

    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-11...

    This was an announcement by our Health secretary Andrew Lansley this week:

    'Legislating to make food healthier is more expensive and less effective than engaging with the food and alcohol industries'

    Also note, Andrew Lansley's wife is the Sally Low, is the managing director of Low Associates, a lobbying company who have worked with the likes of SmithKline Beecham, Unilever and Procter & Gamble - you get the picture?

    There is an interesting programme on BBC1 tonight at 8pm. Panorama investigates whether sports drinks and protein shakes etc are a con.

    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-11...

  9. Kim
    Yes, it's unfortunate that these are the types of companies sponsoring the Olympics. But what I find ironic is that these are all American (Kraft owns Cadbury) companies sponsoring the LONDON games.
  10. Tia
    #8:
    "Also note, Andrew Lansley's wife is the Sally Low, is the managing director of Low Associates, a lobbying company who have worked with the likes of SmithKline Beecham, Unilever and Procter & Gamble - you get the picture?"
    Yes, got it: he loves his domestic peace! LOL!
  11. Ondrej
    Are we still getting it wrong in our whole understanding of nutritionism, including LCHF? Do macronutrients really matter in weight loss? Or more specifically do they have to?
    http://www.kettlebellebody.com/edb/TenDayDietSolution.pdf
    Read this and be open-minded. It is not against LCHF. It's agains the idea that macronutrients should be counted, certain foods excluded...and it's quite refreshing read. In the end, it has a lot in common with LCHF, except it doesn't bother with macros and doesn't blame carbs.
  12. Ondrej, the PDF you linked is laughable to say the least. The only way that diet would help anybody is by pure chance. On my "don't eat anything from a box day" there are a number of fattening foods that I could choose from. Whether I got fat or not would be wholly dependent on how many times I 'got lucky' when I picked something to eat.

    I guess my biggest problem with this is that it doesn't address the cause of weight gain and obesity, but rather prescribes a pattern of behavior that may help you avoid certain causes.

    Rubbish.

  13. Just in case you doubted the intentions of the Olympic sponsors, check out this page by Cadbury's chocolate for their retailers:

    http://www.cadbury.co.uk/london2012/for-retailers

    According to Cadbury, the Olympics is 'an excellent way to engage with consumers, drive confectionery sales and promote your support for your local team of athletes.'

  14. Ondrej,
    It's not about "blaming carbs". It's about recommending what's been proven to work.
  15. ad ligtvoet
    The Games are far off from what they supposed to be historical regardless who is the sponsor.
    I read that Mc.donalds serves also in the athletes village so they can eat the food they are used to,especially those from the U.S..
    Fact is that most consider an ongoing relationship between sports and health and view the atlethes as role models and thus many copy their 'behaviour' . When even products from Mc.Donalds are part of the SPORTS world then this will justify many to eat it too or more wtihout the guild feeling.That is why I don't like the sponsoring of these companies ,but he , it is a free world right. Lets be honest it's not only Mc.Donalds or the like that sell garbage.What about all those small take away businesses or eating holes around the globe .People always get what they want . Changing what they want is what it is all about and that is a intellectual thing and that means not everyone wiil go that path because it is not automatic.
    The best we can do is become a role model ourself to the one's we care about most and also vote with our money so atleast the small or larger companies that produce good products stay in business.
    ad
  16. tess
    i agree with Mike B and Elwin.... personal responsibility can go a long way, but ONLY when people get GOOD dietary recommendations! it's clear that people DID do what "authorities" suggested for health -- cut down on their fats and increased their healthywholegrains -- and look where THAT got us!
  17. I'd rather these weren't the Olympic sponsors, but I don't think that its that big of a deal.

    I'd also like to point out that when I watch the Olympics, I am so in awe of the athleticism of the participants and moved by their dedication, that it inspires me to be healthier, not to nosh out on Cadbury's, Coke and french fries!

  18. Trina #7,
    I updated the first two episodes to working YouTube clips. Watching the third one tonight. Thanks!
  19. Gehri
    I don't know how they are handling it in London, but when I worked for the Salt Lake Winter Olympics in 2002, you did NOT have a choice of what to eat when you were at a venue. They had a contracted vendor that had a fixed menu. You either ate that or went hungry. Many of the venues were miles away from anything resembling restaurants. You were not allowed to bring food into the venue. After spending literally hours getting to the venue, clearing security, walking, sometimes a mile or more, to get to you seat, you simply didn't have a choice of what to eat. So you ate the vendor food. Which I can tell you was awful! Other than some sausage-like food, everything was high-carb. At that time I was still brain washed into a low-fat diet and was appalled at all the high-fat foods. Now I am appalled at high-carb content of the food.

    Official sponsors are not necessarily the ones providing the on-venue food, mostly they do that for money in exchange for exclusive titles to the particular sponsorship.

  20. JAUS
    #11 That PDF is a joke. The author thinks that actually thinks that fruits are nutrient-dense foods, that shows his incompetence. Compared to meat, fruit hardly contains any nutrients at all.
  21. shums
    Kim makes a good point. Where are the British companies sponsoring the Olympics? As usual America is the first country we blame and the first we ask for help from. C'mon Europe make up your mind.
  22. moreporkplease
    Let me frankly say that in my previous job, Sir Dominic Cadbury was chairman of my board. Coming from a long line of very moral Quakers, Cadbury had excellent employee standards, benefits, and a humane corporation.

    He personally believed it was necessary for Cadbury as an institution to be moral and to do the right thing. He's everything a real "Old Etonian" English gentleman should be, in my personal experience of him. And for a long time he deliberately limited Cadbury's actions to mitigate the impact on society.

    Also, as he could not prevent the Kraft takeover, he did work with them to ensure jobs stayed in the UK as much as he could. He cares about the use of his family name.

    I'm certain that he would never have inked such a deal if he had any influence. So blame Kraft, not Cadbury.

  23. Stacy in USA
    It is disappointing to see these sponsors. I recently had a vacation at Disney World, FL. I noticed that several of the food vendors and options there were more LCHF friendly then in prior years. There's a cart that sells a giant roasted turkey leg - skin on. It was hilarious walking around the park like a caricature of Henry VIII.

    Disney and other corporations are pretty sensitive about their corporate images. McDonald's in the USA recently added apple wedges (ugh, I know) to their menu hoping to get some p.r. credit. The truth of the matter is that they do respond to public pressure and are mindful of their images.

    Folks who care about public nutrition need to write letters and e-mails, make a few phone calls, and talk to people. Give them the information they lack. The number of people in the US who still believe that low-fat diets are healthy and that fats are dangerous is huge and shocking. Most folks still think that the Atkins diet is dangerous and the doctor was a whack-a-doodle-do.

    I'm old enough to know that things can change. Be the change. (That's not a political endorsement). ;-)

  24. I'm annoyed by things like this:

    "I also have to point out that people at the Olympics have a choice as to what to put into their mouth. I really have no problem with the food industry sponsoring anything."

    It shows a lack of understanding of how human decision making works. I like to think about a person as a huge ship, with our conscious mind as the captain. The captain can go around to all of his subordinates and make sure they are all making the right choice, but he has limited resources. He can't do everyone's job for them. He either has to train them to do their job (develop habits) or strategically choose what he's going to direct his oversight on. Our willpower is a limited resource. Advertising works because most of our decisions are made unconsciously and then after we have already decided, we fool ourselves into thinking our conscious mind made each decision.

    If advertising was not persuasive then these huge companies wouldn't spend a non-trivial percentage of their budget on it. These ads WILL cause people to drink more coke, buy more candy, and eat at McDonalds. That is a FACT. It is a fact that has made these companies as big as they are today. You talking about personal responsibility in light of knowledge of how humans make decision just doesn't make sense to me.

    This is not something that should just be brushed off. Coca cola, cadbury, and mcdonalds have absolutely nothing to do with successful athletics.

  25. Dale
    Coke has been sponsoring the Olympic Games since 1928, London is just at the end of a very long line of "inappropriate" Olympic sponsorship.
  26. 'The number of people in the US who still believe that low-fat diets are healthy and that fats are dangerous is huge and shocking. Most folks still think that the Atkins diet is dangerous and the doctor was a whack-a-doodle-do.'

    It's exactly the same her in the UK. Out Government guidlines tell us to eat lean cuts of meat, low fat dairy and base our diet on starchy carbohydrates!! In my local supermarket there is not even one single brand of kids yoghurt that isn't low fat, high sugar. So now I buy plain, organic full fat yoghurt and add fresh fruit and a little honey for my children.

    Last night's Panorama about sports drinks was very interesting. 8 teaspoons of sugar in these things and they are encouraging kids to drink them regularly when taking part in sport, making sure they drink, before they get thirsty. The programme visited some kids playing football and asked them about the sports drinks - all of them said they drink them because they believed that the drinks would give them energy and make them play better. In other words, they, and their parents who bought the things for them, believe the marketing.

  27. Diane, I totally agree that there are not enough options for those of us who want to avoid sugar and eat high fat in the UK. it is so hard, that I am left with a limited diet. I have full fat greek yoghurt, meat, some nuts, butter (twice the price of margarine) cream, cheese and that is about it.

    No low carb icecreams, snacks or any convenience foods. i am not saying that I want to eat food made by someone else all the time. But occasionally it would be nice to go out and enter a cafe and know that something on the menu is edible.

    What needs to happen is for people like us, who care and who want to see no sugar products enter the supermarkets to lobby for it. Ask and ask again. write letters, emails etc.

    tesco ha their "free from" section which contains products which are free from gluten, wheat, nuts etc. But nothing which is free from sugar. This is despite millions of people suffering from diabetes. What a huge untapped market they are failing to think about.

    How do lowcarbers get their message out that we want to be take seriously and catered for?

  28. Stacy in USA
    "No low carb icecreams, snacks or any convenience foods. i am not saying that I want to eat food made by someone else all the time. But occasionally it would be nice to go out and enter a cafe and know that something on the menu is edible."

    Do you have Panera's in the UK? It's a chain of salad, sandwich, soup shops here. They offer a couple of different salads that are LCHF. My favorite is the chicken, avacodo cob with full fat ceasar dressing. I buy it when I'm on the go along with unsweetened iced tea. It's yummy.

    I think your right that we need to ask our local supermarkets to carry more LCHF friendly products. My local grocery chain (King's) started stocking coconut oil, coconut milk, and almond flour due to demand. That's a good thing!

    Also, we (Americans, and I'm sure it's true in the UK as well) have access to a wide variety of good quality protein at reasonable cost. Whether it's beef, poultry, pork, fish, lobster, or scallops they're in the stores and, for the most part, reasonablly priced.

    The situation is particularly hard with children, though. My basic strategy (I have two teens) is to stuff them with good quality food at home so that when they go off to school or with friends they're just not that interested in the junk food.

  29. @Jared

    Why does it annoy you that people are free to eat what they want and advertisers are free to sponsor the events they want?

    Silly analogies aside, I fail to see what alternative you would propose. Perhaps you would like to see advertising banned from the Olympics, or perhaps you would prefer to see a tax on 'junk' food.

    Both are terrible ideas because it doesn't get to the root of the problem: misinformation.

    When people in the US were implored by the government in the 80s to stop eating saturated fat and cholesterol they did stop eating it. They acted on the information provided. We need to provide better information and allow people to act.

    As far as advertising goes, I think you give it way too much credit, and don't give humans enough.

  30. Stacy in USA
    Mike B,

    I think this is where the conversation gets somewhat political. As I was listening to the Alec Baldwin and Dr. Lustig interview, it struck me how much blame they placed on the sugar and food industry and how little they focused on government agencies and professions missioned with providing medical advice and helping to set public policy.

    I assume corporations are - forgive the term - prostitutes. They sell stuff for money - that's it. While government and pseudo-government agencies are supposed to be acting in the public interest. That's why they exist. So, when I assign blame, I look to those who are supposed to be looking after us, not the prostitutes. I assume, possibly unfairly, that Lustig isn't all that interested in placing the focus on the roll his own profession has played in this travesty. Forgive the term - it's where his bread is buttered. ;-) Also, certain types of elite in the USA love the anti-corporate dogma but are uncomfortable with the anti-government stuff. They're prepared to force new standards to replace old ones using government controls ala Mike Bloomberg.

    The whole situation is a swamp fever of corporatism/crony capitalism combined with "guilds" (the medical and scientific communities) failing in their primary responsibilities. The Hippocratic Oath and the scientific method -if honored- could have lead the way.

    Ah well, live and learn.

  31. Well said Stacy.

    I get nervous when people immediately jump to the extremes. At one end of the spectrum you have people beating the drum for regulation, and at the other end of the spectrum you have people that think the individual is wholly responsible for diet and health.

    I have to say that I fall more in the latter camp, but I also recognize the huge disservice the government and medical establishment has done to the individual. These wrongs should not be ignored. And when they are corrected, they should be corrected as carefully and prudently as possible.

  32. Laura
    Well I pointed this out in a a previous post that almost all the main Olympic sponsors are junk food providers...this included Mcs, Cadbury with their hypochocolaty(<30%)/hypersugar choc bars etc....I am also disgusted by this. Trust me being in London is unbearable McDonalds advertising campaign in one of teh busiest train stations in London is sickening it is everywhere with HUGE BIG posters both static and on screen...they ahve tried to appeal to all kinds of people and yet NOT one of the actors in adverts is remotely overweight...adn to advertise junk food in apposition with great atheticism is really BAD...yes watch super fit people and get fat in the process by eating junk......trying to inspire new generations of Olympic athletes?...scouting for bariatric surgery subjects more like... :-(
  33. You guys that rail on fast food companies should watch the Fat Head documentary. Aside from the conservative ranting in it, it's a pretty interesting documentary.

    Long story short, Tom Naughton eats fast food for every meal for 28 days, loses 12 lbs, 3% body fat, and improves his lipid profile...

    How does he do it? Skip the soda and keep his carbs under 100g per day. Magic!

    You people act like letting a double cheeseburger pass your mouth will kill you. That is a load of crap.

  34. I don't think anyone is saying that personal choice isn't important. but is is a fact that most people in either the UK or the US are misinformed about what is right to eat. Associating junk food with sports gives it the illusion of being healthy (as long as you do a bit of exercise too). But we all know that professional athlete work out all day every day. the average person simply cannot eat like an athlete (although I doubt they eat at Maccy D's everyday either).

    If the information was out there, people might make better decisions. but the fact is that we all found the information because we looked. it didn't come looking for us like the junk food manufacturers do.

    it is possible to make good choices in any food environment, but if we are told that low fat is good and that the chicken sandwich at McD might be good for us. We just believe it. then we have our diet coke and out low fat chocolate from Cadbury s and feel like we made good choices. No one is telling people that those are not good choices at all.

    We need information to make the best choices in fast food restaurants. the restaurants themselves aren't going to tell us, so who should? the only agency left is the government. they did a good job with the low fat message. Chances are they could do the same with low carb - if they are willing to admit they were wrong.

  35. Stacy in USA
    "the only agency left is the government. they did a good job with the low fat message. Chances are they could do the same with low carb - if they are willing to admit they were wrong."

    The problem with this is what about the next mistake? What about the next study that's funded via the NIH (National Institute for Health) that initiates the next fallacy? Sorry to go off on a tangent, but 25% of all American women take some type of anti-depressant. The efficacy of these drugs in highly questionable yet they were approved by our FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and are covered (paid for) under most private insurance plans, Medicaid (insurance for the poor), and Medicare (insurance for the elderly). There's a lot of bad science across multiple disciplines. Why? Why so much bad science? Money and low standards. Delicious tax money and professionals (guilds) willing to form their science to fit a need that brings more money. Research scientists like to eat too.

    We need to be careful, really, really careful in how we fund via tax dollars (or sterling) and how we credit the science with the legitimacy of "government approved".

    As an American, I have no interest in a turf war for government funding over what is and what is not good nutrition science. I want the agencies that provided the bad information to be de-legitimized. The organizational structure is dysfunctional and lends itself to bad science, captured government, and guild turf protection. It's like saying communism would have worked if only Stalin wasn't such a jerk.

  36. Government strings are pulled by the big corporations of the food and pharma industry. These corporations want to keep the status quo as it big ££££ & $$$$$ for them while it totally makes a big mess of our health.

    I don't know how it is going to be changed. People power, I am trying it, but most times, people can't get past the 'fat is bad for you and gives you heart disease' hurdle. Or they think about low carb and say, 'Oh, but it can't be good to cut out a whole food group. Our bodies need carbs for energy'.

    Funny that I've been living on 20 -30 grams net carbs a day for nearly 3 years and I've never had so much energy!

    It's just so much hard work fighting against the tide of bad information, marketing and constant availability of bad food choices.

  37. These food products are all an experiment. Food processing is an experiment. Ultimately, they are not safe to eat in any large quantity.

    Drugs that are not safe for people to consume are either heavily regulated or illegal. Alcohol is heavily taxed. etc.

    I'm in the Robert Lustig camp on this, but not in the case of just taking Sugar off the GRAS list. I would impose a heavy tax on food processing. This food processing step, making food products, that is something people cannot compete with. Food processing needs to make foods more expensive for the public, not cheaper. This seems like the purpose of the government to me, to protect the public from capitalism gone wrong, or working with the tools of capitalism, to make sure the negative externalities of these foods are reflected in the price.

    To say that advertising isn't effective is incredibly naive. There is nothing within the current system that will stop these food manufacturers from growing. Look at how successful we have been with tobacco here in America. We limited their advertising. There was a highly effective counter-advertising campaign, and now our tobacco companies sell mostly overseas. I would love if we could do the same thing for all of our food product companies. They are not part of a healthy society.

  38. Lisa
    three words come to mind: ignorance (and) child abuse
  39. Official food Olympic Games: McDonalds.
    Official drink Olympic Games: Coca Cola.
    Official disease Olympic Games: Type 2 Diabetes.
  40. Laura
    Gabriel!! Love it!!!! :-)
  41. Laura
    There are strict regulations on bringing of food to the Olympic Village. Apparently you cannot bring in any water/liquids (like at the airport) or any branded foods that are not purchased in the Viallge.!!!! I think this is outrageous. I ahve got some tickets for minor competition in August and have no idea what i will eat or drink for all the hours I will be there as i categorically refuse to buy anything from McDonalds not even water.

    Apparently even Olympic security staff are banned from bringing foods from brands other that the sponsors..if they do they must trasfer said foods to a non branded clear palstic bag!!

    These people are crazy!!
    :-(

  42. Bishop
    Sure, it looks really bad when it's pointed out like it is in this blog, however, someone has to sponsor the Olympics, right? Not to get on a conspiracy tangent, but the corporations rule this planet, so who else would sponsor this event? IMHO, I don't know of any healthy Corporations that could float the type of money that a McDonald's or Coke can spend. Or if anyone would even give a damn if they did. Do McDonald commercials really make people want that "food"? I sure don't. Same for Coke. Maybe their messaging doesn't work on me.

    I think one of the problems with advertising and marketing healthy food choices is that produce & meat (deli/butcher) doesn't have a corporate attachment per se, unless it's the supermarket that's selling these items that is doing the advertising. Only corporation I can think off hand that would remotely be "healthy" would be Foster Farms. Hope this makes sense.

  43. Cat
    England is sh#t as far as health goes. Nearly everybody's underweight or overweight, so shame on us. Mind you, carbs are advertised everwhere as a good thing, when actually, no carb is required for human health. Did you know that glucose is a type of ALDEHYDE. Sh#t, I mean that's bad BY ITSELF. ALDEHYDES ARE ALWAYS BAAAAAADDDDDD!!!! Beware.
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