The creation of health promoting sports clubs may support the promotion and adoption of healthy behaviours by children. Sponsorship is one aspect of clubs, with potential influence on clubs and their participants. In particular, sponsorship influences brand awareness and attitudes, so that the sponsorship of children’s sport by unhealthy food companies may contribute to food preferences and poor eating habits. This study aimed to determine the nature and extent of food and beverage
sponsorship of children’s sport. Sports clubs (n ¼ 108) for the nine most popular sports for children aged 5–14 were randomly sampled from three large geographical areas in Australia. A purpose-designed telephone questionnaire was developed to determine the extent of sponsorship. Experts from different fields were approached (n ¼ 10) to generate a consensus on the elements of sponsors that are
more/less health promoting. The survey response rate was 99%. Of the 347 sponsors identified, 17% were food or beverage companies. Fifty percent of food company sponsorship arrangements did not meet criteria for healthy sponsors. For most clubs, less than a quarter of their income came from sponsorship. A considerable proportion of clubs with food company sponsors had the company’s signage on players’ uniforms (53%), distributed rewards using the company’s name (24%) or gave vouchers to players for the company’s products (29%). Any restriction of unhealthy food and beverage company
sponsorship of children’s sport may not result in major funding difficulties for clubs, as this funding represents a relatively small proportion of their income base, even though it provides major promotional opportunities to sponsors.
Key words: sponsorship; sport; children; food marketing