Junk-food fortunes: Sports stars cash in on advertising

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

That's the claim made by health campaigners who want to ban famous athletes from promoting fatty foods to children

Health campaigners are calling on the Government to ban sports stars from promoting junk food, claiming athletes are earning millions by fuelling childhood obesity.

Gary Lineker and David Beckham are among the sporting figures that secure fortunes promoting Walkers crisps and Pepsi and Burger King respectively, while Olympic medallists are cashing in on lucrative deals in the aftermath of London 2012. Gymnast and Strictly Come Dancing's Louis Smith and boxer Anthony Ogogo are the faces of a Subway campaign to "encourage fans to train hard and eat fresh" by eating American-style "submarine" soft baguettes.

Pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale and US swimmer Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian of all time, also promote "low fat" subs from the chain, which has more than 1,500 outlets across the UK. But there is no evidence that any of the stars practise what they preach.

The Government recently announced the introduction of "traffic-light labelling" to help end confusion about which are the "healthiest" and "unhealthiest" foods but experts want more action.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a London-based cardiologist, says that with one in three children in the UK obese or overweight by the age of nine it will take half a century for the problem to be overcome.

"Look at the smoking ban – introduced about 50 years after the first scientific evidence emerged on the dangers of smoking. We've started to see evidence on the dangers of a poor diet on children with the increase in obese kids and diabetes, but the food industry is powerful and it will push arguments and 'evidence' saying its products are not dangerous.

"These companies are interested in one thing – profit. Traffic-light food labelling is just a drop in the ocean. We cannot afford to waste any more time: the Government has to intervene."

Companies keep details of their celebrity deals secret, but an economic report into the Lineker effect on Walkers crisps revealed his support had boosted sales by 2,760,000 packs over two years – up 23 per cent. Researchers concluded there was "exceptionally high ad awareness... in both adults and children".

Lineker has been the face of Walkers for 17 years. Another report shows why: between 1995 and 2000, Lineker campaigns helped increase sales by 105 per cent. He earned £1.5m for the five-year deal he signed in 2000 and another lucrative three-year deal was signed in January.

The report added: "An increasingly effective campaign has doubled the awareness and enjoyment of Walkers' commercials. It's also boosted consumers' loyalty to Walkers, helping it become Britain's biggest food brand."

Malcolm Clarke, from the Children's Food Campaign (CFC), last week criticised fast-food companies for their "vague health promises" and also called on them to stop using sports stars to promote their products.

He said: "Athletes tap into a mind-set – that if I eat that food I can look like that, have a body like that and achieve sporting success. It is clever marketing, and any healthy pledges are very vague and non-accountable. If you don't choose one of Subway's "5g of fat or less" sandwiches then the numbers are far less rosy. Sugar and salt content is still very high."

Subway is just one of 10 sponsors that Smith promotes via Twitter. A 6in chicken and bacon ranch melt contains 503 calories and 19.2g of "total fat", of which 8g is saturated, according to the company website, now showing the nutritional content of all its food. The same size "spicy Italian" contains slightly fewer calories and less fat but has 1.1g of sodium.

In-store posters encourage customers to buy foot-long subs for just £2 more and to add fizzy drinks, doughnuts or cookies.

A spokeswoman for Subway said it had reduced salt content by a third in recent years. She added: "Subway has also signed up to all four of the Government's public health responsibility deal pledges to reduce salt, eliminate artificial trans fats, display calorie information on menu boards, and calorie reduction."

Sales of low-fat subs have increased by 11 per cent but the company declined to give figures regarding overall sales. PepsiCo, which manufactures Pepsi and Walkers, declined to comment.

Swimmer Rebecca Adlington became a Cadbury's brand ambassador at the Olympics claiming her favourite chocolate bar was a Boost "because the energy keeps me going".

Boost sales rose 55 per cent over three years when comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer promoted the chocolate bars in the 1990s. Experts predict Adlington is having an even greater effect.

"There is a lot of love for someone like Rebecca Adlington and the marketing plays on that," said Mr Clarke. "All these incidents are unhelpful though when you have our childhood obesity problem.

"Sports stars consume huge amounts of calories, far more than the average person."

A spokesman for the Department of Health said athletes' endorsement of products was not a matter for the Government, but for the Advertising Standards Authority.

David Beckham

Pepsi, Burger King

Beckham has long been one of the many sports stars who endorse Pepsi. He added Burger King to his product list this year when he endorsed their new "healthy" range, including fresh fruit smoothies.

Venus and Serena Williams

McDonald's

The tennis champions signed up to become the faces of McDonald's in 2005 in a controversial campaign that targeted children. After a huge media backlash following the 2004 documentary Super Size Me, the company enjoyed 15 consecutive quarters of growth. "We're both huge fans of McDonald's, and we both love kids," said Venus.

Michael Phelps

Subway

Phelps puts away 12,000 calories a day when he's in training and a foot-long meatball marinara, his favourite according to Subway's website, gives him almost 1,000 calories with 36g of total fat, 14g of which is saturated. Phelps earns around $6m (£3.8m) a year from endorsements.

Gary Lineker

Walkers crisps

Economic modelling showed Walkers had 44 per cent growth in the grocery sector between September 1994 and February 1996, by which time Lineker's campaign was under way. He is estimated to have earned at least £5m promoting the crisps.

Rebecca Adlington

Cadbury's

It may give the Olympic medallist the energy she needs, but there are 326 calories in a Boost bar, the swimmer's favourite, which also contains 18.3g of fat – nearly a third of the recommended daily amount.

Jonah Lomu

Pizza Hut

Along with Caprice, Martin Clunes and others, the New Zealand rugby player helped the chain to an average revenue per restaurant boost of more than 21 per cent. The company spent £17.8m on the campaign and saw a return of £54.9m.

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
VIDEO
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Geography Teacher

    £130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

    Do you want to work in Education?

    £55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

    Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

    Day In a Page

    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

    The man who could have been champion of the world

    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
    Didn’t she do well?

    Didn’t she do well?

    Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
    Before they were famous

    Before they were famous

    Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
    Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

    Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

    Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players