As the Olympics have passed I cannot help but notice that it has left a frenzy of Olympic fever across the country. Where the swimming pool lanes were empty I can no longer move for the swathes of people charging up and down the pool. And while some people may say this boom in sport is short lived the less pessimistic of us cling on to the hope that maybe, just maybe, there will be a change of preferences; from sitting on the sofa eating and staring gormlessly at the box to a nation that has a real get up and go attitude.

With obesity rates in the UK increasing every year, many questions have been asked as to whether companies such as McDonalds and Coca Cola were responsible Olympic Partner choices for 2012.  These increasing rates of obesity cannot solely be put down to a lack of physical exercise but must also be put down to an increasingly poor diet primarily revolving around sugary foods and fast foods. So, in light of this information should we really have given companies, commonly associated with fast food and sugary products, the fantastically huge platform for advertisement provided by the Olympics? Or, should we have sourced the partnerships with an increased number of companies such as Adidas, EDF and VISA?

While it is very easy to jump on the bandwagon of ‘all fast food companies are bad’, they do have their benefits. For example both McDonalds and Coca Cola waived the right to tax relief offered to them when London was chosen to host the 2012 Olympics. This meant that the profits they received from the games were taxed as usual; any gain they received was also to the benefit of the tax system. The quantity of money that McDonalds have reportedly paid to be partners of the Olympics in the four years leading up to 2012, totalling a staggering $100 million, is also notable.

But while there are distinct benefits to the presence of these partners in the Olympics you don’t have to dig far to find those who are ready to fight the other corner. One popular opinion is that fast food sponsors are an embarrassing sight at the Olympics and have no place in such a huge sporting event. Honestly I don’t find it hard to see why people choose this as their corner to fight. With the motto ‘Faster, higher, stronger’ it becomes increasingly difficult to see where McDonalds or Coca Cola would feature in the grand scheme. Another increasingly important point is the age-old debate on obesity. I think it is safe to assume we all have our own opinions and are fully capable of making our own informed choices about food. Just because McDonalds and Coca Cola sponsored the Olympics it doesn’t that mean that we’ve all been automatically brain washed to go out and eat and drink these products.

However, while we may be capable of making these choices do we have to consider the younger generations: those who don’t fully comprehend the ultimate health risk associated with eating these foods, those who are easily wooed by the prospect of a free toy or a wristband? If we, with our informed decisions, can’t stand up and fight against the foods that are causing such vast health problems nationwide, then who will? I can guarantee it is unlikely to be the voice of the obese primary school child who knows little of anything other than what they have been brought up with or seen on TV.

It must be said that there are reasons why Olympic partners such as McDonalds and Coca Cola are welcome sights at the Olympic Games, but the argument for boycotting their presence, while not financially sound, is compelling and something that should be close to our nation’s hearts.

Emma Drabble

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