Obesity study points the finger at fast food sponsorship

New Zealand’s increasing levels of obesity and Type 2 diabetes can be linked to fast food corporations sponsoring charities and sports events, according to Waikato District Health Board.

The board has issued a discussion document, Obesity, diabetes and fast food – the impact of marketing to children, that suggests corporations’ backing of sporting activity sends conflicting messages to our youngsters.

With McDonald’s sponsoring athletic events and Burger King supporting the Breakers, it’s easy to see why children become confused.

The paper's author, Waikato DHB population health policy analyst Nick Chester, said people have been conditioned not to notice this subtle advertising. He suggests this is part of the “obesogenic” world we live in, with inactivity and sedentary jobs promoting over-eating of unhealthy food.

A McDonald’s spokeswoman defended McDonald’s as a meal choice to the Herald.

"We've worked hard to ensure we can provide healthier choices for our younger customers, and now more than 50 per cent of our Happy Meals sold include a choice like fruit juice, water or apple slices."

The 2006/07 Health survey found that one in five New Zealand children were overweight, and one in 12 was obese. These children were unlikely to lose weight when they got older.