Parents' Jury verdict on Premier League's partnership with Cadbury

'Give Cadbury’s sponsorship the boot', parents tell Premier League. Over two-thirds of Parents’ Jury members surveyed had a negative view of the Premier League’s new partnership with Cadbury. 92% of the Parents’ Jury supported the call for sports' governing bodies to restrict partnerships with sugary food brands.

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Over two-thirds of the parents taking part in Children’s Food Campaign’s Parents’ Jury raised concerns about Cadbury being the Premier League’s first ‘official snack partner’. Parents believe that the partnership will increase the association of football with chocolate products (69%) and boost the perception of the chocolate brand (54%). Very few parents actually believe it will encourage more children to participate in sports (14%).  In fact, almost half of parents surveyed were concerned that the deal might encourage children to eat more chocolate. They also expressed worries about the nature of Cadbury’s involvement in Premier League’s Primary Stars educational programme to school children.

Almost all Parents’ Jury members (92%) want to see the Premier League and the Football Association adopt a ‘healthy lifestyles’ sponsorship policy, restricting partnerships with brands associated with less healthy products. Two-thirds of the parents were also keen for the Department for Education to produce guidance for schools to help them decide on commercial sponsorship and the acceptability of educational materials and equipment paid for by the food and soft drink industry. An earlier survey of teachers also strongly supported this idea.

This survey into views on sports sponsorship was the first action undertaken by the Parents’ Jury - a new initiative set up by Children’s Food Campaign to give parents a stronger voice on the food available and promoted in their children’s schools, in shops, on the high street, and beyond. 

Commenting on the Parents’ Jury findings, Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of Children’s Food Campaign, said:

“The Premier League’s partnership with Cadbury has put snacking culture in the spotlight, and it’s not a pretty sight. Parents are rightly frustrated that there are yet more high profile ‘moments’ devoted to promoting sugary products, rather than encouraging healthier eating habits.” 

“It is a damning indictment that parents express some relief that the latest sponsorship deals are with chocolate and energy drinks companies, rather than alcohol and gambling brands. Football’s governing bodies should adopt policies which make their commercial relationships ‘sugar smart’ and appropriate for the family audience they are trying to attract.”

“Parents can see through Cadbury’s cynical attempts to connect their products with sport and exercise, but they want more help to ensure their children are getting the right messages, including at school.  The Parents’ Jury is asking the Department for Education to take greater responsibility in this area. We hope the DfE is more responsive to such appeals than they have been to fulfilling their Childhood Obesity Plan commitments so far.”

“In the meantime, the Parents’ Jury is still recruiting. We welcome any interested parent with a child under 18 to apply at

Media Contact:
For interviews, and for further information, please contact Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator, Children’s Food Campaign, on 07733322148 or 020 7065 0902, or via twitter @childrensfood

Quotes from Parents’ Jury members:

“It is hard for me as a parent to explain to my kids that sugary drinks and snacks are bad for them when they see these products connected with the sports that they play and watch.”  (Mum of 4 and 7 year olds, Surrey)

“I don't mind my kids eating chocolate as a treat, but do not get it when there are mixed messages about what it is to be healthy - ie sport promoting junk food. It's the same as unhealthy food available in vending machines in sports and leisure centres.” (Mum of 6 and 8 year olds, Gloucestershire)

“It is only more recently have I become aware of the effect marketing is having on my toddler requesting more sweet treats, I feel a bit powerless.”
(Mum of 2 year old, Buckinghamshire)

“Our household doesn't watch or care about sports, and I'm not wholly anti-chocolate, but yes I agree in general it'd be better if sports organizations adopted a healthy-produce sponsor policy.” (Mum of 4 and 11 year olds, Cambridgeshire)

“This issue might have felt less pressing to me in a previous era, for example during my own childhood in the 1970s. Families were less pressed for time and fewer unhealthy options were available so chocolate was simply a snack, consumed in small quantities. But now this is too big an issue to avoid.” (Mum of 11 and 14 year olds, Tyne and Wear)

“I am not a purist but I do believe, as with the Olympics, we need the right brands and messages around sport.”  (Mum of 2 year old, Lambeth)

“It might not be ideal, but it's got to be better than an alcohol focussed sponsor.”  (Mum of 12 year old, County Durham)

“I long for a broadening of the concept of healthy eating to include the concept of the health and wellbeing of those producing the food.  Cadburys withdrawal from Fairtrade is particularly discouraging in this regard.” (Mum, Buckinghamshire)


1)     Children’s Food Campaign

The Campaign aims to improve children and young people's health by campaigning for policy changes in our schools, in our communities and throughout our society that would promote healthy and sustainable food environments. The Children's Food Campaign is supported by over 100 UK-wide and national organisations, including public health professional bodies, trade unions, school food experts, children’s charities and environmental groups. We are a campaign of the charity Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.

2)     Parents’ Jury

The Parents’ Jury is a new initiative from Children’s Food Campaign, aimed at giving parents a stronger voice on the food available and promoted in their children’s schools, in shops, on the high street, and beyond.  Jury members are sent regular online surveys, and given ad hoc opportunities to comment on topical news, adverts and policy announcements. Jury members will also be encouraged to share examples of the best and worst products and marketing practices they come across; and to rate business and government attempts to make healthy choices easier.

The Parents’ Jury started recruiting parents on 3 August 2017 and already has over 250 members, and that is increasing daily.  They come from all parts of Great Britain; and so far most are between 25-54 years old; 85% are women; and three-quarters have degrees. The Jury is open to any parent in the UK with a child under 18 years of age. Children’s Food Campaign is looking for a broad mix of parents from different backgrounds and areas, and with a range of views and experiences.  Any parent wishing to apply can currently do so at

The launch of the Parents’ Jury has been made possible due to funding from the Food Commission, who ran a similar initiative from 2002-2005.  Professor Aubrey Sheiham was an advisor and friend to both Children’s Food Campaign and the Food Commission, and this new Parents’ Jury on food and food marketing continues his legacy.

3)     Parents’ Jury survey responses

The first survey undertaken by Parents’ Jury members has been on the issue of sports sponsorship, particularly the Premier League’s partnership with Cadbury’s, given the topicality of the start of the football season this month. A breakdown of responses is available from 

4)     Cadbury’s partnership with the Premier League

The Premier League and Cadbury have come together to start an exciting partnership, kicking off from the start of the 2017/18 season. For Cadbury, the nation’s favourite chocolate, this builds on the brand’s history of iconic partnerships including its sponsorship of London 2012, and provides another platform for the brand to bring moments of joy to millions of people. Cadbury will be bringing this partnership to life in a variety of ways that will excite football fans. From offering fans the chance to win match day tickets throughout the season and presenting the Golden Boot award at the end of it, through to supporting Premier League Primary Stars to encourage healthy and active lifestyles.  Taken from:

5)     Carabao Cup

Carabao, the Thai energy drinks brand, is the new headline sponsor for the English Football League and Premier League’s ‘league cup’ competition.

6)     Teachers’ views on food industry involvement  in schools

In 2014, Children’s Food Campaign surveyed members of the NUT teaching union on their views of food industry engagement with schools and their provision of curricula resources and equipment.  86% of teachers had never come across any guidance on the subject, and many of the teachers thought that was a gap which the Department for Education should be filling.


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Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.


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Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.