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To systematically audit the extent of unhealthy sponsorship within junior community sporting clubs and ascertain whether differences exist across geographical areas and sport types.
Club sponsorship data were assessed to determine the extent of unhealthy food/beverage, alcohol and gambling sponsorship using a cross-sectional design. Differences across geographical areas were assessed using logistic regressions.
A stratified random sampling procedure was used to select thirty communities across the state of Victoria, Australia. Within each community, local clubs across the top eight participating junior sports were selected for audit.
Sponsorship data were collected from 191 club websites and Facebook pages in September–November 2019.
Unhealthy sponsorships represented 8·9 % of all identified sponsorship arrangements. A quarter of all clubs accepted alcohol (25·6 %) and unhealthy food sponsors (25·9 %), and one-fifth of all clubs accepted high-risk food (unhealthy brands with large market share) (18·1 %) and gambling sponsors (20·4 %). Acceptance of unhealthy sponsorship differed across sport types with football, netball, cricket and soccer clubs having the greatest numbers. Compared with metro areas, a significantly greater proportion of sporting clubs in regional areas were affiliated with unhealthy food (32·7 % v. 19·6 %) and high-risk food sponsors (26·9 % v. 9·8 %). A higher proportion of clubs in low socio-economic status (SES), compared with the high SES areas, were affiliated with alcohol (33·9 % v. 16·5 %) and gambling sponsors (27·4 % v. 12·6 %).
Victorian children participating in community junior sports are being exposed to marketing of unhealthy brands and products. Public health intervention is necessary to protect children from this exposure.
To establish high intake of free sugars and its related disease burden as a significant public health challenge in Australia.
We discuss five key actions to reduce intake of free sugars tailored to the Australian context. These strategies are informed by reviewing the global scientific evidence on the effectiveness of a range of policy responses to reduce intake of free sugars at the population level.
The five key actions to reduce population levels for intake of free sugars tailored to the Australian context include prioritising health in trade agreements and policy; introducing a fiscal policy supporting health and promoting food reformulation; regulating advertising and improving labelling; strengthening the current dietary guidelines; and encouraging healthy choices.
The adoption and implementation of the strategies discussed in the current commentary would aid in tackling the rising health burden from the intake of free sugars in Australia.
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