Imagine this: Thousands of children in Ireland were enjoying World Cup knockout matches on television, enjoying brilliant football being played by the sport’s top idols, none of whom — it will be apparent to the even the most casual viewer — are obese.
The football is not all they were seeing on the screen: More than 1,350 advertisements for food and drinks high in salt, fat and sugar were beamed into homes during the knockout stage, reports the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF).
That works out at 285 minutes of advertising for stuff that if consumed to excess by children would render them incapable of kicking a ball about on a playground for more than five minutes.
The IHF, rightly appalled by cynical marketing that associates excellence in high-performance sport with unhealthy food and drink, is calling for the television watershed on such advertising to be extended to 9pm. That does not go far enough. There is an unarguable case for banning it from all sports programmes.