Jamie Oliver – fierce food campaigner and all around stand up guy – has hit out at sporting role models David Beckham and Gary Lineker for promoting junk foods. You may have seen the likes of Beckham and Gary on your TV screens in ads for Pepsi and Walkers crisps – but the celebrity chef has joined health professionals and teachers who say the use of famous sports personalities in junk food advertising is sending the wrong message to youngsters…

Before Beckham and Lineker, Brad Pitt, Ringo Starr and even the legendary James Brown himself have been known to feature on junk food commercials for Pringles, Pizza Hut and instant noodle soup. But the contentious point, that Jamie Oliver and others are making public, is the fact that famous sports people who are in the public eye and who young people are exposed to on a daily basis are promoting fizzy drinks and crisps. It hardly instils a healthy appetite for aspiring sportsmen and sportswomen.

Jamie Oliver is not unfamiliar with making his opinions known on nutrition. His TV series, Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners in 2005, is what kicked off the Government’s move to introduce nutrition rules in schools after he highlighted the unhealthy meals which are served to school students.

In the same vein, Jamie has added his name to the recent open letter to The Times, which condemns the use of athletes in television adverts. His name joins other signatories such as Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) president Dr Hilary Cass and others. In the letter the group expresses its “grave concern” about the trend of athletes supporting junk food brands. The letter airs the worry that sports personalities are encouraging the excessive consumption of junk food.

It is these types of foods that are stimulating poor health and obesity, which is a growing problem around the world with more people becoming obese and at a younger age – and the UK is not exempt. According to the letter, one in three children in Britain are overweight or obese by the age of nine. The authors of the letter think this should serve as a stark warning to junk food brands who are glorifying their products by associating them with famous sportsmen. The foods and drinks which are being endorsed tend not to have many nutritional qualities which could be a reason to call upon the celebrities to promote the products.

We here at Student Recipes understand that it is easier said than done to ensure you eat healthy every day of the week – time and money are often factors which can prohibit this type of diet. The effortlessness of buying and eating junk food should not be a reason to eat them, yes they are OK to enjoy on occasion but not as part of a staple diet. The point is that the young generation look up to people like David Beckham and Gary Lineker and if they see them endorsing products such as Pepsi and Walkers crisps, consumers will assume it is ok to over indulge if someone like David Beckham is fronting the campaign.