The Movement to Ban McDonald’s, Coca-Cola From the London Olympics

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Mary Altaffer / AP

A meal with a large beverage is displayed on a tray at a McDonald's restaurant, June 12, 2012.

Junk food giants McDonald’s and Coca-Cola could find themselves left at the starting blocks after the London Assembly voted to call for a ban on Olympic sponsors that produce high calorie food and beverages.

Just over a month before London hosts the 2012 Olympics, the powerful elected body passed a motion urging the International Olympic Committee to adopt strict sponsorship criteria in a bid to outlaw advertising of products linked to child obesity.

(MORE: TIME’S COMPLETE COVERAGE OF THE 2012 SUMMER OLYMPICS)

The political statement comes on the back of vociferous protests from health organizations that the celebration of athletic excellence is not the place to be tempting youngsters with Big Macs.

“London won the right to host the 2012 Games with the promise to deliver a legacy of more active, healthier children across the world,” the Green Party’s Jenny Jones, who proposed the motion, told the assembly. “Yet the same International Olympic Committee that awarded the games to London persists in maintaining sponsorship deals with the purveyors of high calorie junk that contributes to the threat of an obesity epidemic.”

One of the most vocal critics of the IOC has been the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which feels that the presence of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, both of which have exclusive rights to sell food and non-alcoholic beverages respectively, “sends out the wrong message” to children.

Big Macs, fries and milkshakes will form part of McDonald’s exclusively branded menu at its four restaurants in the Olympic Park and Athletes’ Village, but the chair of AoMRCs fears that adverts for the sponsors will pose the biggest danger to kids’ health.

University College London’s Terence Stephenson says that companies wouldn’t spend huge amounts of money on advertising and sponsorship if it didn’t increase their sales.

“And we know, particularly when it comes to junk food advertising aimed at children, it does have an affect on the type of food they want to eat,” he says.

(MORE: 50 Olympic Athletes To Watch)

But despite the criticism of their presence, without companies like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, the Olympics would be under serious financial threat, a fact that organizers are happy to admit. Cash generated by commercial partnerships accounts for more than 40% of Olympic revenues, and the companies under fire have been two of the biggest contributors for many years.

Coca-Cola has sponsored every Olympic Games since 1928, making it the longest continuous partner of the Olympic Movement, while McDonald’s has been ever-present since the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

Involvement of this level comes at a hefty price. The Olympic Partner (TOP) sponsors likely pay about $100 million for a four-year commitment, and sponsors typically spend three to four times the sponsorship amount to plan and execute the associated marketing campaigns.

Additional advertising spending aside, revenue from TOP between 2005 and 2008 came to around $866 million according to the IOC, underlining just how vital the program is to the process.

As for the companies themselves, Coca-Cola points out that more than 75% of the drinks it expects to sell at the Olympics and Paralympics will be water, juice or sugar-free drinks, while McDonald’s also points to its healthier options — porridge, bagels and salads — and says that complex health issues like obesity cannot be solved by companies alone.

“Ultimately it’s up to individuals to make the right food, drink, and activity choices for themselves,” a McDonald’s spokesperson told TIME Moneyland.

Currently a third of U.S. children are overweight or obese, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, and British kids are fast catching up, with an estimated 31.1% falling into the same category.

The issue of Olympic sponsorship is by no means a new one, nor is it likely to disappear in the near future. The IOC will no doubt take the London Assembly’s move into consideration, but given the sheer sums of money involved, it seems unlikely to turn its back on the golden goose. Or arches.

136 comments
Paul Luedtke
Paul Luedtke

For over 35 years I have eaten at McDonalds and drunk Coke products and I am not obese nor am I in bad health.  In fact, I cannot remember one time that Coke or McDonalds products have made me sick.  Their products are not inherently unhealthy.  Quite the contrary, their products have satisfied my thirst and given me energy to live an active healthy life.  This move to ban their products reflect the personal beliefs and politics of those in the U.K. who have been blinded by the nanny society which they seem bent on promoting.

Paul Luedtke
Paul Luedtke

For over 35 years I have eaten at McDonalds and drunk Coke products and I an not obese nor am I in bad health.  In fact, I cannot remember one time that Coke or McDonalds products have made me sick.  Their products are not inherently unhealthy.  Quite the contrary, their product have satisfied my thirst and given me energy to live an active healthy life.  This move to ban their products reflect the personal beliefs and politics of those in the U.K. who have been blinded by the nanny society which they seem bent on promoting.

Djombol Hodjinou Hodjinou
Djombol Hodjinou Hodjinou

I don't think that for a few weeks staying in london could makes people obes especialy for the childrens with their's parents,trough the an olympic games. Wish the officials will providing a room for the guests ;some phycal activities. Other than to ban Mac do's restaurant. For there shall be many peoples in London at that period.

jdrda
jdrda

It's simple calculation with calories. If the child switches  some Facebook hours for doing some sport, it's not problem to have a few burgers and coca-cola drinks a week. The same with the adults - if their only movement is from car to house, even healthy food will not help them.

jdrda
jdrda

It's simple calculation with calories. If the child switches  some Facebook hours for doing some sport, it's not problem to have a few burgers and coca-cola drinks a week. 

The same with the adults - if their only movement is from car to house, even healthy food will not help them.

Frithjof Danielsen
Frithjof Danielsen

By calling Coca Cola and McDonald's "Junk food giants", TIME Magazine becomes a Junk News giant.

Recent surveys show that McDonald's food is of higher quality than the food served in Danish old age homes, and better than food from shawarma bars, pizzarias as well as sausages. When elderly people get too hot, a large glass of Coca Cola is the best to restore their well being. Coca Cola with a dash of salt also is the best for people in hot areas.

julian tysoe
julian tysoe

"

Additional advertising spending aside, revenue from TOP between 2005 and 2008 came to around $866 million according to the IOC, underlining just how vital the program is to the process."

So, about 7% of the cost of the London Games. Who does this money go to, the hosts or the IOC?

meloncito
meloncito

Advertising has an

important influence in children. Let me remember the main conclusion of an

extensive review conducted by McGinnins et al: ”There is strong evidence that

television advertising influences the short-term consumption of children ages

2–11 years.”

meloncito
meloncito

Advertising has an

important influence in children. Let me remember the main conclusion of an

extensive review conducted by McGinnins et al: ”There is strong evidence that

television advertising influences the short-term consumption of children ages

2–11 years.”

Ryan Henderson
Ryan Henderson

I am getting absolutely fed up (no pun intended) with these fitness-facsists.

I cannot BELIEVE I'm defending McDonalds and Coca Cola, but these health-nazis are the last straw.  They and mayor bloomberg can go to hell!

Hint:  I don't watch the olympics for my healthy well-being.  I watch it for entertainment, just like every other shmoe that watches sports.

steveo1949
steveo1949

  What a crock of BS!!!  Micky D's and Coke have sponsored the Olypics for over 75 years and one of the LARGEST restaurants is in LONDON!!! People eat their because they like it!!! Leave people alone, they have the RIGHT to make choises for themselves, and this idiot from IOC has his head firmly buried....if I were a sponsor and this ban were to take place I would pull my support and boycott the IOC, what a bunch of Morons, what now the Olympics starts in a week and they pull this crap. I guess I'll be watching baseball instead....

Calipenguin
Calipenguin

Ban Big Macs and fried potato?  Then why not ban greasy English chips (fried potato), fatty Yorkshire pudding, bangers and mash, and blood sausage?   Where's the international outrage over haggis and offal?

elliewo
elliewo

I think they should  give access to different food and drink choices at the Olympics games so that the consumers have a choice.   Banning specific brands will not solve the  root of the problem; however putting the problems up front and center will put pressure on these mega million dollar companies to spend resources on researching healthier AND tasty food.  Otherwise, they'll keep their junk food and spend their money on advertising instead.

ruspert
ruspert

The Hamburger, a sandwich first made in Germany and named after the city of  Hamburg was introduced into the United States and has over the years been changed in nature from the original to what we have now, Whoppers, Cheeseburgers, Big Macs, and etc. , none of which are the true sandwich . The true Hamburger is made from a mix of pork and beef ground up and made into paddies. There are also other sandwiches that are named after cities such as Frankfurters, Stuttgarters, Berliners and etc. and all are served at celebrations such as the Octoberfest in Germany. These were not consumed in a daily diet.

Louie75
Louie75

I do believe it is up to the individual to make the proper decision to feed their children food from McChemical, but these companies are not without complaint, either.  They have downplayed the number of fatty and salty ingredients in their food for years based solely on the decision that once a customer is informed about potential health issues, they will begin to make health conscious decisions which will hurt profit margins.    I will credit these companies for making changes by offering low calorie alternatives.  It's not enough, but it is a sign that the consumer does have an effect that these companies hate to admit.   Subway, for example, is booming.

Bill Lagakos
Bill Lagakos

They just need to change the message: 

Olympic athletes are the only people who SHOULD be allowed to eat fast

food.

nancydonns122
nancydonns122

.....I  have received my first check only  working home using my computer, I've seen a lot of comments clamming  so and I didn't believe it at first,

But guess what,it turns out they were for REAL, all I had to do was following the steps exposed on this web page >>>

 

nancydonns122
nancydonns122

good point .....I have received my first check only working home using my computer, I've seen a lot of comments clamming so and I didn't believe it at first,

But guess what,it turns out they were for REAL, all I had to do was following the steps exposed on this web page >>> http://goo.gl/Ck9kM

pink_petunias
pink_petunias

Even worse, MUCH WORSE, is coca cola's sponsoring of Fantasy Fest in Key West Florida.  This is an *anything* goes carnival or is it carnal?  They are definately not a family oriented company but are focused on filthy lucre anyway they can get it.

Randy Marsh
Randy Marsh

Porridge? C'mon! going to Mcdonald's to have porridge and fruit is like going to a prostitute and paying for a nice chat.

Toothy Grins
Toothy Grins

There appears to be an incentive for countries that offer universal health care to keep their people healthy - imagine that! 

It would not hurt for the US to start taking unhealthy food off the shelves as well.  

Jeremiah Liburdi
Jeremiah Liburdi

ayup... cause fish and chips with a pint is that much more healthy than a filet o fish and some fries with a coke... WTF? by the by, i dont touch mcdonalds or any fast food for that matter, but i dont agree with the idea that a gov't can ban a food because its "unhealthy" when we barely understand what "healthy" is... remember the food pyramid most of us were raised with... yeah... that changed thanks to science... just imagine what'll happen in another 20 years. 

johnmh3579274321
johnmh3579274321

Choices are not just personal individual choices. We are not hermits. We live in a society. We influence each other. We need personal responsibility and social responsibility. Many things can happen to people, when people just "look the other way". Song: "Blowin' in the Wind": "How many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn't see.". For all people who don't care: maybe you will be next. Thank you. 

BIGFLASH
BIGFLASH

'They' should be spending their time and money educating people. There are hundreds of items at the grocery that you shouldn't eat.  There are medicines you should never ingest.  Educate the people. It's a little late and backward thinking  to ban Coke and McDonalds now dontcha think? After taking the sponsorship money?

JudHanson
JudHanson

Instead of banning commercial sponsorship of the Olympics, why not try to draw  more companies in so that visitors will have as wide a food choice as possible? Education about food is the key to a healthy lifestyle.

Steve851
Steve851

The only people contributing to the obesity epidemic are the ones stuffing their faces.  Take some responsibility for yourselves people.  This issue is absurd

J fremlin
J fremlin

Whats the problem here? Parents can't say "NO" to their children any more?

It's up to parents to make these choices, NOT GOVERNMENT!

Next, they will be telling you, what day you can eat red meat on..

This is a case of bloated government!!

O_Pinion
O_Pinion

“Ultimately it’s up to individuals to make the right food, drink, and activity choices for themselves,”

I am so over these companies trotting out this tired response. The cigarette companies use it all the time as well. 'we just make it. The consumer is free to choose whether they smoke or not'.

 

OK then, lets lift the ban on cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines etc. Same logic.

 

Steve851
Steve851

 Actually if we lifted the ban on narcotics we would be far better off.  It would end lots of unnecessary violence, unnecessary imprisonments, unnecessary spending on law enforcement, and we wouldn't be making gangsters into millionaires.  If people want to kill themselves with calories, nicotine or drugs, let them.  The Darwin effect.  Should not be any of the government's business.  Even if you can't accept that, the McDonald's/Olympics issue is way, way beyond the pale.

free2writeagain
free2writeagain

let's face the facts....No CC or Mcds...No Olympics...I do not see Wholefoods or any other healthy food company jumping to sponsor!!!!

free2writeagain
free2writeagain

Let's face the fact....No CC or Mcds...No Olympics!!!

Danyz
Danyz

Life in today's West: porn, drugs, perversion, no prob! But with Coke, burgers, and cigarettes, the moral outrage puts Oliver Cromwell's Puritans to shame.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Just too much.  Over the top.  Better get to work lining up celery farmers to sponsor the games.

WeeItsNookies
WeeItsNookies

Everything is fine in moderation. Do we blame pencils for misspelled words? Do we blame a fork for why kids are fat? No, so we shouldn't blame that. I eat fast food everyday, but I also work out everyday, I'm not a lazy fat ass.

Unhealthy food is not the blame. People who eat way way way too much and don't exercise are the blame.

They simply will not be able to pull those two big ass sponsors. Money is more important and will always be more important than the health of IDIOTS. GL trying to find 100% all organic healthy food places to sponsor an event. Since between Coke and Mcdonalds the Olympics makes up 40% of the revenue for this..Oh wait there isn't any..

I have seen athletes in mags and on websites eating unhealthy crap everyday. Peoples priorities are once again completely ass-backwards. Don't discourage a flat out ban of fast food..But rather enforce a moderate consumption of it and exercise.

Moderately eating mcdonalds or drinking coke does not make you a fatass. It cannot be blamed at all. Eating a lot and not exercising does.

jbwhite84
jbwhite84

Whatever happened that the olympics do not get involved in politics.  The places where obesity is worst is in the prosperous countries of all places.

Tony Martellini
Tony Martellini

SWIFT move by the GREEN GESTAPO,,,see how many Billions carrot and tofu producers are going to cough up to support the IOC....40% of the operating budget comes from McD and coke....not enough TOFU on the planet to support that.   The problem:   Frigging Xbox and computers,,people from 5 to 65 are ass strapped to computers and xboxes,,,12 hrs a day.  even kids don't go out and play in the yard anymore..."TOO BORING"  so they sit on the couch..working their thumbs.  Simple as that.....I mean some of these athletes woof on Fast foor 3 times a day..they look great..whyyyyyyy...they exercise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guest
Guest

The PC police just keep getting worse and worse. If you can't control how much you eat, that is not McDonalds fault.

1gadawg
1gadawg

I've eaten at McD's all my life, i'm not fat nor in poor health and after all these years, i have yet to see the Micky D gestapo out front forcing anyone to enter or eat there - It always has been no ones choice but your own!!

Chad Lindsey Moshell
Chad Lindsey Moshell

If it weren't for sponsors like McDonalds and Coke, the Olympics wouldn't the amazing thing that it is, and millions of children wouldn't have been inspired to become Olympians.  

Chad Lindsey Moshell
Chad Lindsey Moshell

It's amazing that so many kids under the age of 12 can drive themselves to McDonalds and have jobs in order to buy themselves a Big Mac and Coke.  I'm glad bad parenting isn't at play here.  Oh, wait...

askjghaiosuuf
askjghaiosuuf

I always thought it was so funny to see the olympic athletes doing commercials for McD's - there's always a few every year - but none of those people has probably ever seen the inside of a McD's.

Kyle
Kyle

actually, they probably have.

when you run 10 miles every morning and night you can eat just about whatever you want

Howtocheat Andnotgetcaught
Howtocheat Andnotgetcaught

Maybe if we hung a cheeseburger in front of peoples heads, they would then be able to use some of that science behind addiction to chase that cheesburger and burn a few calories.

I've never seen a person pawn their flat screen, steal from their parents, or sell their bodies for a cheesburger and how many people have ended up on the streets because of their addiction to McDonald's?

It is called self control, not an addiction. Nobody, except bad role models (such as overweight parents whose children want to be just like them-cute right) makes a person fat. They do that to themselves.

crand2003
crand2003

America needs to clean up it's act. All Americans need to get down to our proper weight which is a 36 inch waist for men and 32 inch waist for women. All food producers should be banned from  advertizing unless the food promotes weight loss and good health. 

Steve851
Steve851

Go away. People like you are scary. I mean really frightening

James Johnson
James Johnson

I was unaware that so many people on here run non-profits.... I was under the impression that most companies are in business to make money.  If you dont like their products, dont buy them.  They arent doing anything wrong.  If you try to ban high calorie foods / drinks because some state they are "addictive" then you might as well ban alcohol, cigarettes, medicines, video games, televisions, sex, etc.... Those are all addictive too, right?  McDs and Coca Cola arent the issue.  People's lack of personal responsibility and bad decision making is the problem.  I'm sorry, but no ban or government regulation can help you with that. 

James Johnson
James Johnson

Oh yeah, and it terms of McDs and Coca Cola being so terrible, do an internet search for most unhealthy restaurant foods, or something to that nature.  You will see that there are many worse offenders than these two.