Everybody loves Junk Food. Even gym rats and fitness gurus have cheat days every once in a while so they can enjoy the best of the unhealthiest food and drinks that taste oh so good. But does this mean sporting events that are meant to highlight fitness and athletic capabilities should be sponsored by soft drink companies and fast food chains?
According to the 2016 World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, 20.8% of Pakistan’s population is overweight and 4.8% is obese. Whether this is from the lack of exercise, oil laden karhais and qormas, or the affordable price point of a cold bottle of Pepsi, Coke or Fanta, is anyones guess. But the fact that sporting events as big as PSL have teams in jerseys covered with the likes of KFC, Pepsi, McDonald’s and other unhealthy foods is questionable, at least.
The practice of fast food chains and fizzy drink companies sponsoring HUGE sporting events is nothing new. FIFA has been sponsored by McDonald’s for years, PepsiCo has been a constant sponsor for the Super Bowl and even the Olympics aren’t safe, with athletes endorsing various less than ideal foods and drinks. While the choice of what to put in one’s body lies with the individual in the end, it is important to note the significance of subliminal marketing, especially when easily influenced groups are concerned, including children.
Think of it this way. A fast food meal consisting of a burger, fries and soft drink will easily rack up 1000 calories. A person would have to run at a speed of 6 mph for 90 minutes to justify putting that much in your body in on sitting. Even athletes, despite having rigorous training regimes with intense physical activities, do not include meals from their own sponsors into their diets, and they’re the ones who can afford those calories the most, so is it not their responsibility to intervene? Or are they just pawns in a bigger game?
While Pakistan is far from the most obese country in the world, what with a good chunk of the population not being able to afford a simple roti, it is never a good idea to promote some of the unhealthiest food and drinks in the world on a platform that will be viewed by millions upon millions. We understand that business is business, but guidelines must be set in regards to the extent of marketing permissible. Completely banning giant conglomerates is impossible, but quotas should be placed so the entire event is not drowning in KFC and Mcdonald’s logos. The purpose of PSL was to bring Cricket home, but did possible obesity have to hitch a ride along with it?