A National Scandal at the Olympic Games

Friday 29th June 2012

  • Having ruined Euro 2012 for me it looks like McDonalds is wrecking the Olympics too
  • Read why the organisers should hang their heads in shame
  • Don't go supersize, pack the cheese and pickle instead

Mercifully the English football squad are returning home from the Ukraine following their traditional failure from 12 yards.

Now, before you all reach for your electronic quills to lambast my parochial attitude I need to explain why I am glad.

For the last two weeks I have followed events in the East with interest, but also an increasing sense of nausea.

The bile wasn't rising because of any nationalistic bent though.

It was because of the overt branding from a certain fast food emporium which was beginning to burn itself into my retinas.

Even with my eyes closed I was seeing the famous golden arches and even caught myself humming the theme tune... and I definitely am not 'Loving It!'

The branding was around the stadia, on buses, on taxis, around the pitches and in every advertising break.

It sickened me to see the little kids being led out onto the pitch dressed like mini Ronald McDonalds in their red and yellow outfits before each game started. The Hamburgler stole my viewing pleasure.

Like I said, now that Team England aren't involved the media coverage here should abate, and we will be subjected to less exposure to this pernicious brand.

Of course, this isn't an end - merely a respite.

In 28 days from now the next big event for the global TV audience kicks off - the Olympics.

Once again the mighty McDonalds PR machine will kick into gear and we will be subjected to fries with everything.

I'm already getting angry at the thought.

The cheek of it...

But the absolute icing on the hundreds and thousands covered doughnut was the news story I read in the Daily Mail this week.

On Tuesday there was a piece about the building of the largest ever McDonalds restaurant in the world at the Olympic site.

This temporary Maccy D's can seat 1,500 people and is estimated to serve 1.75 million meals over the 29 days of the games.

Less than 300 yards from the stadium where the cream of human performance will be on display is the home of saturated fat, reconstituted meat and corn syrup.

The very stuff which the BBC(1) has so eloquently portrayed as the cause of declining health world-wide is being promoted on the back of sporting prowess.

But it gets much worse than that.

Due to the level of money being slung at the organising committee, McDonalds has bought the sole rights to food within the Olympic Park.

Yes that's right - the ONLY food you can buy is this over-processed, over salty and mega-sweet pulp.

(By the way the only non-alcoholic drinks available will be from Coca-Cola who have done a similar deal!)

Well done to everyone involved.

"It's very sad that an event that celebrates the very best of athletic achievements should be sponsored by companies contributing to the obesity problem and unhealthy habits," said Terence Stephenson, a spokesman for the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges.

I think it is more than very sad, it is an absolute outrage which is compounded by the claptrap that is coming from the London games organisers.

"Sponsors provide a huge amount of the funding required to stage the games, without our partners such as McDonald's, the games simply wouldn't happen."

So says one of their spokesmen - and he couldn't be more wrong.

The games would go ahead, would attract a massive global audience and would leave a legacy of national venues and healthy goodwill on a fraction of the current budget.

It just wouldn't be an overtly glamorous extravaganza. The focus would be on the sport. Isn't that what it's all about?

There wouldn't be the orgy of corporate excess, or the huge profits that the organisers want to trouser.

The last word

We have known for a long time that the value of the food we consume dictates our health.

Research team after research team has conclusively shown that chronic obesity and all of its associated problems is directly linked to poor diet.

Equally we know that fast food is packed with all the stuff which will harm us.

The problem once again comes down to money.

The big food giants have deep pockets and no social conscience so they will scheme, connive and bribe their way into our lives.

They will subject our kids to the slow drip of indoctrination, and have us believe that we are bad parents unless little Johnny gets one of their 'treats' every day.

When our sporting occasions are being held to ransom by them we shouldn't be surprised, but we shouldn't accept it.

I hope everyone who attends the Olympic games takes a picnic with them rather than support this foul marketing ploy.

A nice bit of cheddar with pickle and a brown roll is going to be closer to the original Olympic ideal than a fat filled burger and chips.

The next few weeks

From today I will be leaving you in the capable hands of my editor Jane, who will be manning the shop whilst I am away for a fortnight.

I have written a couple of pieces for her to run with, but she also has free reign to dip into the archive going back to 2005.

I hope you enjoy the letters under her stewardship for the next two weeks.

Yours, as always









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