Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Handing out energy drinks at kids' sport is a load of Red Bull

One of the simple pleasures of being a parent (depending on your point of view) is spending the weekend experiencing the careers of others under the guise of children's sport. Get the taxi ready to ferry kids back and forth to the venue, play the role of a medic with ice-pack and Band-Aids on hand, coach and cater (those oranges don't slice themselves).
I don't expect to have to play the role of public health advocate. I want my children to play sport in an environment free from the food politics that inhabits much of my own professional life.
So, imagine my disgust to see the relative serenity of the local soccer match ambushed by a couple of young people handing out free drinks high in sugar and caffeine to the families watching their kids playing soccer.
This type of marketing is actually in breach of the voluntary Australian Beverages Council's industry commitment on energy drinks, which provides guidelines for the responsible marketing and promotion of energy drinks to which members agree to be bound. These guidelines are meant to ensure that marketing and advertising activities of energy drinks are not directed at children.
In this instance, the promotion targeted what was clearly a junior sporting event where the participants – and a large number of spectators – were children.
This is why everyone in public health has legitimate concerns about self-regulation and industry involvement in policy areas such as food-labelling, advertising and the much-maligned 'Health Star Rating' system.
Industry is clearly not concerned with the health of their consumers; they are only interested in their own bottom line. This compromises any role they may have in shaping policies designed to improve health.
So next time Red Bull turns up at the local soccer game, I'll be suggesting they get their wings on and fly away. I want my kids sport sugar-free, thanks.
ADAVB CEO Clinical A/Prof Matthew Hopcraft