IT MAY come as no surprise to anyone who heard Shane Warne talk pizza for five minutes straight during a recent test match, but a study has found Australian cricket broadcasters have an unhealthy obsession with fast food.
An Obesity Policy Coalition report released on Wednesday revealed junk food sponsors were mentioned more than 1000 times in a single T20 cricket match in the 2013-14 summer season.
The research found more than 6.5 hours of junk food ads and other promotional tactics were shown during last year's summer T20, Ashes and One Day International matches.
KFC was by far the biggest promoter, appearing 3372 times during the broadcasts and accounting for 99.7% of total junk food advertisements and promotion.
OPC executive manager Jane Martin said the tactic of associating with healthy, family-oriented sports gave junk food companies a false "healthy halo".
"Cricket fans, many of whom are children, are bombarded by these messages every few seconds, sending the misleading message to children that consuming these products is consistent with a sporting career and healthy lifestyle," Ms Martin says.
"Exposure to the promotion of unhealthy food, including through local and elite sport sponsorship, can have a lasting effect on children's health.
"A strong body of research shows that powerful food marketing influences the types of food children prefer, demand and consume, and can contribute to poor diets, negative health outcomes, weight gain and obesity in children."
Legendary spin bowler turned commentator Shane Warne has a well known taste for snacks of the greasy variety.
Earlier this month, he used five minutes of air time to give viewers an insight into his favourite pizza toppings - even running a viewer poll to determine whether a "dirty rotten pizza... dripping with fat, all down your chin" was more popular than fellow commentator James Brayshaw's more-refined "gourmet" lamb and goat's cheese topping preference.
The to and fro was ridiculed on social media, but it did provide viewers a reprieve from KFC's advertising saturation.
"We believe there is great potential for cricket to be setting a healthy example for Australian children and we've asked Cricket Australia to take action to promote healthy habits, to help protect our kids from a future of chronic disease," Ms Martin said.
How many times junk food was promoted during last year's summer cricket broadcasts:
One Day Internationals (three matches) - 704 times, totalling 1 hour, 30 minutes
Brisbane Ashes test (first three days) - 758 times, totalling 1 hour, 24 minutes
T20 International (two matches) - 1910 times, totalling 3 hours, 40 minutes
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