Get junk food ads out of sport

Nicole Toia,

With the cricket season kicking off, it’s time to dust off the bats and bucket hats and get ready for a sizzling series.

Whether you’re enjoying a one dayer or a five-day test match, teamwork, talent, and nail-biting wickets are not the only thing your family will see a lot of! Unfortunately, unhealthy food and drinks are heavily promoted throughout the broadcast of elite sports, including cricket.

The junk food industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year on mass media advertising1. This kind of junk food advertising can be seen plastered all over the cricket pitch, on players uniforms, on the wickets, and even on top of spectators’ heads with the recent introduction of the Buckethead, We are also flooded with ads promoting junk food on TV and on social media, normalising junk food as part of our lives. Sadly, our passion for sport is being turned into profit. These industry tactics make it hard to escape junk food ads, which ultimately undermine parents’ efforts to feed their family healthy food.

If you’re fed up and would love to see an end to junk food sponsorship in sport - you’re not alone! Around 68 per cent of parents want to see elite sport partner with healthier sponsors, and more than half believe that the current restrictions on advertising are not strong enough to protect our children from junk food marketing2.  A further 70 per cent of parents want to see greater restrictions on who is allowed to sponsor children’s sports2.

So, what can you do?

Talk about it with your kids

When you see junk food advertising on the screen, start a conversation. Here are some ideas to kick things off:

  • Ask your child if they think the athletes would be choosing those types of foods? If not, why not? What would they be eating instead? Check out the LiveLighter® interview with professional softballer Verity Long-Droppert about what fuels her body:
  • Talk about the ads throughout the game to discuss clever marketing tactics used by the junk food industry, and how effective they are in catching our attention! Chat about the main messages, who they are aimed at, and how they make the products look so appealing (sound effects, lighting, clever packaging, and of course the use of famous people).
  • Discuss why junk food is a sometimes food and not an everyday food.

Remember that junk foods have very low nutritional value, and are usually often full of cheap ingredients like sugar, fat, and salt, which usually makes them high in kilojoules (energy). Eating too much of these foods can make you feel tired and can increase the risk of getting sick.

Be a positive role model

Reach for a variety of healthy foods and talk about why this is important with your family. Role modelling healthy eating is the best kind of advertising and will help children to be more mindful and aware when exposed to junk food advertising.

Be mindful of social media

Stay connected to the things your kids are looking at on social media. The social media pages of athletes and elite sporting clubs your children may follow can be flooded with junk food brands too. A review of seven elite WA sporting teams’ Instagram accounts found 1 in 4 of the posts contained an ad for unhealthy food3.  

Take further action

Write to your Federal MP! If you want to see real change, take pen to paper and write a letter of concern. Remember that big movements start with small steps. If you don't know your electorate or who your Federal MP is, click on this LINK and enter your suburb to find out.  

Download our template letter here.

  1. Commonwealth of Australia 2022. The National Obesity Strategy 2022-2032. Health Ministers Meeting. Retrieved
  2. Kelly, B., Baur, L.A., Bauman, A.E., King. L., Chapman, K., & Smith, B.J. (2012). Restricting unhealthy food sponsorship: Attitudes of the sporting community. Health Policy, 104(3). Retrieved from
  3. Cancer Council WA (2021). Unhealthy promotion in elite sport: when burgers aren’t better. Junk food, alcohol, and gambling sponsorship in elite Western Australian sporting teams. Cancer Council Western Australia, Perth, Australia.