Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Who Owns the Podium?

I absolutely love the Olympics. My wife and I personally know several Olympic athletes and know first hand the dedication and perseverance it takes to struggle through many hardships in order to realize their dreams. Additionally, as an exercise physiologist and coach, I have tremendous appreciation for what the human mind and body can do in sports.

Although I certainly realize the necessity for their funding, one thing that slightly taints my experience of watching the games is the irony of the largest sponsors: Coca-Cola and McDonald's. What is problematic, from a public health perspective, is that these sponsors are much more than indirectly associated with the sports (like cigarette brands were to car racing). Rather, the perception portrayed is that they are directly a part of the athletes lives. It would seem that a McDonald's breakfast, lunch and supper contributes to gold medals. The athletes appear to be eating there every day and they even bring their parents! Are Coca-Cola and McDonald's really the meals of champions? Unfortunately, I do realize that the answer is yes for some athletes (along with Kraft Dinner and other nutrient void foods) because Canada's athletes are often not able to afford the quality of foods they would like to purchase. And that is an entirely different topic...

But, it is not the athletes I am worried about since they do enough exercise to negate many of the side effects of a fast food diet (Also, it is highly unlikely their diet constitutes fast food to the degree that we are led to believe by the commercials). Instead, the youth are the real targets here. The movie, "Supersize Me" highlights some of the psychology behind fast food marketing - it's quite amazing.

Check your provincial association for Naturopathic Doctors who work with performance athletes for a thorough investigation of nutritional measures for competition, recovery and rehabilitation.


Melissa said...

I'm loving the Olympics too as I live near Vancouver. Yet, as you noticed, the advertising is mainly from the huge corporations (Coke, McDonalds etc). I went to watch the flame come by my town and there were Coka Cola staff handing out free coke bottles to everyone. It was sad, really. How amazing that you know some Olympic athletes! At least you know the true story about their nutrition but sadly the general public won't make the connection. They look at it as "free stuff".

Jack Harrdy said...

your articals are good and informative. Thanks

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