Intended for healthcare professionals


Unhealthy sponsorship of sport

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 04 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6718
  1. Timothy Chambers, research associate,
  2. Franco Sassi, professor
  1. Centre for Health Economics and Policy Innovation, Department of Economics and Public Policy, Imperial College Business School, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: T Chambers timothy.chambers{at}

Tougher and more comprehensive regulation is long overdue

The recent sponsorship deal between the England and Wales Cricket Board and KP Snacks is yet another stark reminder of the incongruent relationship between unhealthy products and sports.1 The harms from alcohol, gambling, and poor diets cost the NHS more than £10bn (€12bn; $13bn) each year.2 Yet sponsorship deals between sports and unhealthy products industries are rife, enabling these industries to improve their public image and promote their products. A new, resolute approach to regulating sports sponsorship is long overdue.

Sports provide many physical, social, and psychological benefits3 and should be a natural ally for health professionals. They are also popular entertainment—97% of people living in the UK watched at least one sporting event in 2018.4

Sponsorship is a substantial marketing outlet for unhealthy products, and over 28% of all sponsorship revenue for UK sports comes from the alcohol, gambling, and soft drinks industries.5 With revenue from sports sponsorship predicted to increase 6% a year over the next …

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