How Junk Food Pretends To Be Sports Food

For years and years. A strange lie has been told.

Well, not a lie exactly. More like a quiet assumption.

A quiet assumption that has been sold to the public.

That junk food gives you “energy” that will help with sports performance.

In a world where real nutritional information is hard to find. In a world where the truth is actively obscured by corporations financial interests. In a world where many people are far too busy trying to pay the bills to do any proper research into nutrition.

Lies can be told in plain sight. And nobody notices.

The fact that advertisers have successfully created an association between junk food and athletic performance is almost hilarious. Or at least it would be if we weren’t in the middle of a global, life-ruining obesity epidemic.

The green colour is chosen for the packaging because it indicates growth and health. We associate green with trees and plants.

This is Milo. A chocolate milkshake containing 40% sugar.

Put a child playing football on the carton and write some text alongside the product saying “Grow with sport” and now an association is built in the mind of your audience.

An association between Milo and improved sports performance. An association that doesn’t exist. (In fact, drinking Milo will have exactly the opposite effect to what is advertised)

This association is mostly subconscious. Most audiences don’t think twice about the assumption being made in the advertisement. But next time they’re in the supermarket isle and they see Milo on the shelf, they might put it in their trolley. Deciding that it must be healthy because it contains “energy” or something. A thought that was planted in their mind by advertising.

The grain of truth to this idea? Sugar does give you energy. A short burst of energy followed by a crash.

Sugar is addictive. Sugar ruins concentration levels. Sugar impairs brain function. Sugar attacks the immune system. Sugar increases chances of depression. And children who consume lots of sugar early in life are more likely to grow up to be obese adults.

A small amount of vitamins are artificially added to the formula so that Nestle are allowed to put “Vitamins” into the advertisement.

Because while it’s highly important that the product is perceived to be healthy, the actual health of the product is unimportant.

All that matters is that people hand over their money.

But it’s not only Milo. Junk food has been pretending to be sports food for decades.

Look at Tony the Tiger playing frisbee! I should buy Frosted Flakes for my children because it will give them “Energy”!

Most of us grew up eating sugar filled cereals.

It said “Whole grain” and “fortified with vitamins and minerals” on the box.

And so most of us started each day by eating a sugar bomb, all the while quietly assuming that it would give us “energy” for the day ahead.

When an entire generation grows up with no education in media, you’re prey to corporations who will put assumptions in your head.

When you have a society of media illiterate citizens you allow food corporations to hook an entire generation onto sugar and cause an obesity epidemic.

And because the public doesn’t understand how advertising works, they see no problem with junk food masquerading as nutritional sports food.

Take a moment. Breathe. Be mindful of what you’re looking at.

What does Red Bull have to do with Extreme sports?

Nothing.

And yet you probably immediately associate the two.

Red Bull is an “Extreme” drink isn’t it? It’s for young guys who live fast and hard. So be extreme. And pound back some Red Bulls.

Pour that Red Bull out of the can and into a glass. Once the marketing is removed, what are you looking at? A strange brown liquid that primarily consists of caffeine and sugar. As well as a few other strange chemicals

The truth is, no serious athlete would ever consider consuming Red Bull.

Red Bull is for the spectators who want to imagine they’re participating in extreme sports while they watch from the sidelines.

As the obesity epidemic looms over us, I have a request for every individual who reads this:

Notice advertising. Understand advertising. Analyse advertising. And learn media mindfulness.

Pay attention to the messages you’re being sent. Or you might end up handing over your money to a corporation so that you can poison your child with sugar every morning.