Source: Radio New Zealand, 12 Janury 2017
Health researchers say people watching televised sport,
including children, are exposed to large amounts of alcohol
In the latest issue of the New Zealand Medical
Journal for a ban on alcohol sponsorship in sport, the
researchers from Otago and Harvard universities have called for a
ban on alcohol sponsorship in sport.
The researchers studied New Zealand television broadcasts of
five international sporting events over summer two years ago.
The research analysed five major sporting events televised at
that time: a Rugby League 9s test match (women) in Auckland; the
Australia Open Final tennis match (men) in Melbourne; the Asian Cup
Final (men), Sydney; Football Ferns International Friendly (women),
chicago; and the one-day Cricket World Cup Final (men),
They found audiences were exposed to a high frequency and
duration of alcohol marketing during sports broadcasts,
particularly on sideline hoardings.
"Audiences were exposed to between 1.6 and 3.8 alcohol brand
exposures per minute. Alcohol brands were visible between 42 and
777 times across the games examined. For three out of the five
events alcohol brands were visible for almost half of the
Those watching the entire Cricket World Cup were exposed to
alcohol brands 519 times, while viewers of the Australian Open were
exposed 777 times.
The researchers said one sport also featured brands on players'
uniforms, implying they used and endorsed the brand.
"The association of alcohol with sporting heroes deals a double
blow to health promoters as role models to children are used to
promote an unhealthy and harmful product."
Otago University Wellington-based public health expert Louise
Signal, a co-author of the research, said it was damaging in a
country where more than a third of young people were binge drinking
by consuming six or more drinks on one occasion.
"Sport sponsorship bypasses traditional marketing and gets
around the current advertising codes. Children see their sporting
heroes linked with alcohol. In New Zealand we have already agreed
that alcohol should not be marketed to children by traditional
marketing. Why should we allow it with sports sponsorship?"
Rugby league and cricket watchers were not immune, although
cricket fans were protected by the absence of a major alcohol
sponsor in the Cricket World Cup, said Dr Signal.
The researchers said the World Health Organisation had called
for regulation of alcohol sponsorship because of strong evidence of
the effectiveness of regulation in reducing alcohol-related
They said their findings supported advice to the government from
a ministerial forum group chaired by rugby league star Graham Lowe
in 2014 to remove alcohol-related sponsorship of sport.
"Our research suggests once again that we are seeing a great
deal of alcohol advertising during sport on television and we
should end this association," said Dr Signal.
Co-author Tim Chambers, currently at Harvard in the United
States, said there were many healthy sponsors of sport that could
replace alcohol. "For example, ASB Bank sponsored the ASB tennis
classic this month."
An editorial in today's journal said sport was the primary
vehicle for the promotion of alcohol, with the majority of alcohol
industry advertising and sponsorship budgets spent in and around
"The New Zealand government has thus far failed to act on
repeated expert recommendations that would support a change in the
drinking culture, and as such continues to support a culture where
problem drinking behaviour and associated harms will be difficult