Ireland is to become the first country in Europe to adopt a voluntary code restricting the promotion of foods designated as high in fat sugar and salt towards children.
The code has been drawn up by the Department of Health, the HSE, food companies and advertisers.
The Irish Times reports this morning that classification of such foods will be based on a nutritional scoring system used in the UK and that the code will lead to a voluntary withdrawal of all marketing of such foods in locations and media where children are likely to be or see.
Sport is responsible for 70 per cent of the overall sponsorship market in Ireland and the funding related to that goes a long way towards making the provision of sport possible.
Determining whether brands including Coca Cola, McDonalds, Cadburys or others will be bound by the voluntary code will be a matter of some urgency for sporting bodies who have existing or planned deals with them.
The code is reported to cover commercial sponsorship as well as online, print, cinema and poster advertising. It is suggested that a register of companies signing up to the code will be maintained and held to scrutiny by a body designated by the HSE.
Whether this could include the Dublin City Council Bike scheme is not yet known and will depend on the classification of Coca Cola Zero which presently adorns the bikes.
The restriction of advertising and promotion of unhealthy food choices was one of the recommendations in an action plan on obesity published last year by the government.
The mooted publication of a specific code relating to that is an important step towards making that real. Its implementation and the way it could change the relationship between sponsors and sport is an area we will monitor closely over the coming months.