Commonwealth Games chief grilled over sponsors

5th October 2012 at 01:00
Surely fast-food giants won't be sponsors? He `can't tell you that'

A Commonwealth Games chief was forced to admit that organisers would accept sponsorship from fast-food giants when he came under fire from a determined home economics teacher.

Paul Zealey, Glasgow 2014 head of engagement and legacy, had just completed a presentation about the games when Laura Kinley demanded: "Please tell me that McDonald's and Coca-Cola aren't going to be sponsors?"

Mr Zealey replied: "I can't tell you that." He explained that the Games' "sponsorship strategy" included specific categories for fast food and carbonated drinks. There would also be an announcement involving a "drinks family" by the end of the year.

"We are very much aware of that conflict with how we manage the legacy with earned income," he added.

Mrs Kinley, a teacher at Trinity High in Rutherglen, told Mr Zealey and other delegates at a health and well-being conference in Glasgow that she felt the companies' high-profile sponsorship of the London Olympics had muddied the positive messages to emerge from those games.

Judith Bryans, director of conference organisers the Dairy Council, said that her industry had explored coming together as a whole to sponsor the Olympics, but discovered it was too expensive.

Mrs Kinley said she accepted that Commonwealth Games organisers had to raise money, but pointed out that high-profile endorsements had a powerful impact on pupils at her South Lanarkshire school.

Usain Bolt's fondness for chicken nuggets had made some pupils argue that there was nothing wrong with them.

"You don't get a body like that with chicken nuggets," said Mrs Kinley of the six-time Olympic champion - but it was an uphill battle to convince pupils of that.

The difficulty for individual teachers in influencing teenagers' eating habits was underlined by University of Glasgow senior human nutrition lecturer Catherine Hankey. She told the conference that a review of international literature had shown that successful campaigns ran nationwide and maintained momentum over several years.

Individual teachers and schools could make a difference, but it was crucial to gather evidence showing what worked, she said.

The conference was used to launch the Dairy Council's health and well- being award for Scottish schools, which calls on teenagers to create social media campaigns promoting healthy eating and exercise.

"Today's teenagers live in a world of instant information," said Dr Bryans. "The internet, social media and blogs, for example, have opened a world of creative and interactive learning.

"Against this background, we are encouraging students to plan a social media campaign incorporating key nutritional and environmental messages, using a medium that they understand," she said.

henry.hepburn@tess.co.uk.

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