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Blurring the lines of health and wellness: Say NO! to sponsorship from the food industry at the UWC Staff Wellness Day

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The UWC Staff Wellness Day planned for the 25th March is accepting sponsorship from Coca-Cola and McDonalds (via Old Mutual consultant). Accepting sponsorship from ultra-processed and unhealthy food industry contradicts the promotion of health and wellness. It may appear to provide benefits to staff members in the short term (through free items and activities arranged at the event), but it undermines the health and wellness concept in the long-term.

A 2011 survey on the UWC campus found 85% of men and 80% of women (in university administration) were overweight or obese; with 28% of men and 67% of women presenting with a waist circumference indicative of a high risk for chronic diseases of lifestyle. There was also evidence of blood pressure higher than 140/90 in 28% of men and 15% of women not previously diagnosed with hypertension.

Research shows that the actions of “big food” companies drive the obesogenic food environment and diet-related non-communicable diseases. Energy dense, highly refined ultra-processed foods high in nutrients known to negatively affect health (sodium, added sugars, saturated and trans fats) are made widely available at low cost and aggressively marketed in low- and middle-income countries to form new preferences and habits. In these new markets the “big food” companies face limited resistance, shifting consumption patterns and choices towards unhealthy processed products

Given the health and nutrition status at UWC, it is irresponsible to allow these food companies to be involved in the UWC staff wellness day. The only winner will be the food industry through a whole campus market exposure.

Join us in saying NO to sponsorship from the food industry at UWC!

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