Oral Presentation ANZOS Annual Scientific Meeting 2021

Unhealthy promotion on the Instagram pages of WA’s elite sports teams: a picture of health? (#93)

Ainslie Sartori 1 , Gael Myers 1 , Brittany More 2 , Jessica Levis 2
  1. Cancer Council WA, Subiaco, WA, Australia
  2. Master of Nutrition and Dietetics, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia


The popularity and reach of sporting organisations and teams in Australia makes them the ideal setting for the promotion of physical activity, healthy eating and low-risk alcohol use. While some teams have opted to pursue health neutral or health promoting sponsorship opportunities, the prevalence of unhealthy sponsors remains high. Research to date has focused on unhealthy sponsor promotion during televised sporting games, however less is known about the extent to which sporting teams promote unhealthy products on their social media platforms. This study aimed to determine the level of unhealthy sponsorship promotion on the Instagram pages of elite sporting teams in WA.



A content analysis was conducted of the Instagram pages of seven elite sporting clubs in WA, including the men’s and women’s West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers teams (AFL), West Coast Fever (netball), Perth Glory (soccer) and the Perth Wildcats (basketball). All Instagram posts appearing within a two-month period were analysed to determine the extent to which junk food, alcohol, health-neutral and health promoting sponsors appeared in post images and text.



Junk food sponsorship was common, with two of the sporting teams including a junk food sponsor in two out of three posts. The team with the highest level of alcohol sponsorship included an alcohol sponsor in one in every ten posts. Teams with a pro-health sponsor had a small number of posts promoting unhealthy products. The results of this study highlight the concerning frequency with which unhealthy products, particularly junk food, are promoted on the Instagram pages of elite sporting teams in WA. The importance of investment by governments in pro-health sporting sponsorships is apparent. Policy changes could also be used to protect children from exposure to unhealthy product marketing when engaging with the social media accounts of Australian sporting organisations and teams.