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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 May, 2003, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Chocolate offer: Will it get kids fit or fat?

A Cadbury's promotion that exchanges schools sports gear for chocolate wrappers is absurd and contradictory, says the Food Commission.

To get enough wrappers for a volleyball net, children would have to buy 2,000 worth of bars and scoff 1.25 million calories.

Endorsed by the minister for sport and top athletes, the scheme involves the wider community in helping schools and will coax children to play sport, not eat more chocolate, says Cadbury.

What do you think about corporations supplying equipment to schools? Does Cadbury's scheme sound contradictory to you? Will children eat extra chocolate or are the protesters over-reacting?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The kids' health is more important than volleyball net
M. Robinson, UK

Don't you think people in England are fat enough? Why encourage kids to eat more chocolate? The kids' health is more important than volleyball net... Learn from you own mistakes, you bunch of fat unhealthy adults!
M. Robinson, UK

At least there is some benefit with this method of marketing. The school/child gets something back. Better that than advertising where the only beneficiaries are those who are well paid for making/starring in the advert.
Jorg, UK

This isn't just about kids eating more chocolate, they'll eat it anyway, it's also about children being subjected to intense marketing and branding. Some schools in the US have allowed advertising posters and hoardings (for one brand only) to be put up on school property, directly targeting children. Will you be happy if this starts happening here too?
Liz, England

It's no surprise they can't exercise discipline over unruly behaviour
Jon, England

Cadbury are only doing what Walkers and many others have been doing for years. If parents can't exercise discipline over their children's eating (and spending) habits then it's no surprise they can't exercise discipline over unruly behaviour.
Jon, England

It's simple: If you don't like the idea; don't buy the chocolate!
Matt Kelly, UK

This is a quite appalling example of a 'brand name' cynically promoting their products to young people and claiming it will encourage them to be more active. Absolutely disgraceful.
Elizabeth Murray, Scotland

Why can't the government give the money towards new school equipment? The government is there to fund schools and not food companies. Also it will be cheaper for the schools to purchase directly from the school suppliers.
Helen, UK

If Cadbury is concerned about children the donation of soccer balls and volley ball nets is sufficient
Danier Moore, USA

I believe that children are definitely going to eat more chocolate. In the US there is a promotional scheme similar to Cadbury's that blatantly disregards children health for financial gain. Children will not only gain more weight, they will also suffer from many other complications that result from eating too many sweets. If Cadbury is concerned about children and there involvement in sporting activities the donation of soccer balls and volley ball nets is sufficient.
Danier Moore, USA

Why make Cadbury's out to be the bad guys. Other companies have been doing this for years, and let's face it, contrary to what most people would have us believe there is a lot more nutrition and energy in a decent chocolate bar than in most school meals.
Keith, UK

Children will always eat chocolate, all Cadbury's is trying to do is make sure its theirs. That a side, you need ?40 of chocolate to get a basketball. My x-school had 1200 pupils that's about 4p per pupil.
Martin, UK

I thought Cadbury's was a British company? Anyway, what on earth is all the fuss about? Bad eating is down to two people: the parent who lets their child eat crap (giving them money for it, preparing it), and the child who puts crap in their own mouth (buys it in a shop). No one else is to blame. Accept the responsibility and parents - stop palming off your failings onto the rest of us and business.
Helen, UK

Those who reckon that parents are responsible for their children's nutrition obviously don't have kids
Julie, UK

Those who reckon that parents are responsible for their children's nutrition obviously don't have kids. It is easy to closely monitor pre-school children, but becomes increasingly more difficult once they attend schools and youth clubs with their ubiquitous vending machines and canteens full of sweets, crisps and fizzy sugar-laden drinks.
Julie, UK

This is a ridiculous scheme and obviously only devised to trap children into eating more chocolate in the name of helping their school.
Jyoti, England

I see nothing wrong in what Cadbury's is doing. As an advertising campaign it is not aimed at the kids, who usually could care less, it is aimed at the community. As for those folks who claim that they are not responsible for what their children buy when not in their care - I would suggest that they stop giving their kids money - they obviously have not taught them what to do with it.
Andrew, USA

This sounds like yet more '51st State' infiltration. Go home Yankee.
Gerard , UK

We are rapidly becoming a nation of whiners! That's the only way of describing it. I knew it wouldn't be long before the US were blamed. Get a grip of your life and take responsibility for your actions.
Paul B, UK

So children will have to eat ?2000 worth of chocolate to get a volleyball net - that's really not that much when you consider a bar costs about 40p and there are around 1000 children per school (at a guess). So, that's just over a week of one bar a day. How many children eat more than that anyway - and what about all the adults who're eating the chocolate? Is it okay for them to eat whatever they want? Chocolate sales will probably increase a little, but I think that anyone who is going to be using the vouchers as an excuse to buy chocolate would probably be able to find any excuse to do so.
Joanna, UK

This kind of scheme has been going on for as long as I can remember with crisp packets, and crisps contain just as much fat as chocolate, only they don't contain the same amount of energy-granting sugar.
Richard Hammond, England

The schools won't be in a position to refuse as they are desperately underfunded
Caroline, UK

This is the first step towards US-style sponsorship, where schools participating in such schemes get paid by the corporations to promote their products. The next stage, already present in some US schools, is that the corporations will sponsor and supply text books. So, we could have biology/nutrition books outlining the health benefits of chocolate sponsored by Cadbury, or history books sponsored by Rupert Murdoch. The schools won't be in a position to refuse as they are desperately underfunded (what with a few million from the UK Government going missing here or there).
Caroline, UK

If Cadbury's have some spare cash why don't they just give it to the schools? Instead they embark on a cynical marketing stunt.
David Viner, UK

Sorry, why does everyone go mad at Cadbury's for doing this, when Walkers have been doing this for years with no comments. Please explain the difference!
Steve, UK

Kids will always eat chocolate
Brian M, UK

Oh for heavens sake!! Will these do-gooders take a day off?? If you're getting something for nothing then grab it. Kids will always eat chocolate. What's the point of blaming obese children on Cadburys and anyone else in range except yourselves? It's the parents' lack of supervision of the children, that's the problem. So get your kids off everyone else's backs and take a bit of responsibility.
Brian M, UK

For anyone who can't see a problem with junk food companies linking up with schools I'd strongly suggest reading the excellent "Stupid White Men" by Michael Moore. He has a chapter in the book discussing corporate sponsorship of educational establishments in the USA - it's truly chilling.
Gordon, UK

Death by chocolate! God forbid. Pity there's not the same fuss over the promotion of alcopops and a national will to curb underage drinking and smoking.
Barrie Bray, UK

Obesity begins at home, whether it's genetics or parent-supervised diets. Why take responsibility when one can blame Cadbury and many other purveyors of non-nutritious (yet yummy and children-friendly) foods?
Chris, USA

Parents should donate money to the school direct
Su Clarke, England

This kind of promotion only makes me avoid Cadburys (as I do with Walkers) for as long as the promotion is on. Instead of buying the crisps and sweets, children and parents should donate the money to the school direct, they would be able to buy much more equipment than these companies are offering. It is outrageous that our government supports these kind of initiatives in any way.
Su Clarke, England

This is another dodgy marketing idea imported from the US. Big food and drink companies there have been doing this sort of thing with schools for ages. This is especially dumb, since the government (DfE) is backing a scheme called Healthy Schools. Do Cadbury contribute to the Labour Party?

What worries me is how any Government department can see benefit in this the latest in a long line of very cynical buy our rubbish for schools campaigns?
Jamie, UK

Hmm, yes, two million kilos of fat would probably make any child quite chubby. Can we have some statistics which actually make some sense? Or better yet, just not bother with meaningless numbers that suggest nothing.
Dan Slatford, Wakefield, UK

Don't just whinge; teach your kids how hype and marketing work
Phillip Holley, London

I fear if they hadn't used a minister to publicise the campaign then no-one would have kicked up a fuss. It is valuable to a child's future life to experience the ploy and way of the marketing people as they will spend the rest of their living days being 'targeted' for some product or another. Don't just whinge; teach your kids how hype and marketing work.
Phillip Holley, London

People will buy chocolate anyway, so if schools get benefit from it then at least that's something.
Adam, UK

Or 90 kids could eat enough chocolate between them, then share the basketball at school and each of them (and others) would play with it for many hours, just one of those hours burning off their 'contribution'. These statistics are meaningless. All this campaign does is maybe influence what they buy and divert a small amount of the profits back for their good. We live in a world filled with marketing pressure, kids have got to learn to deal with it and use their heads.
Jeremy, Hampshire, England

Cadbury's business is selling chocolate. If they were serious about promoting the interests of healthy, sports-playing children, Cadbury's would stop producing confectionery for kids. Their wrappers for volleyballs campaign is a breathtakingly cynical marketing tactic.
Chris Hunter, England

Perhaps a token will encourage children (and adults) not to throw wrappers on the ground
Marian, UK

At least these products are linked with exercise - the Books for Schools and Computers for Schools promotions require equally (ridiculous) large numbers of tokens for a single paperback or computer mouse. I don't go out of my way to buy products with tokens but I do save any I get (and from colleagues) for the school, whose budget is ridiculously overstretched. And perhaps having a token will encourage children (and adults) not to throw wrappers on the ground.
Marian, UK

The protesters are indeed over-reacting. Most children, including my own, are given sweets, chocolate or crisps for an occasional treat. Offering this kind of promotion will not neccessarily increase the number of bars consumed per child but it may get some much needed extra resources into our schools and classrooms.
Liz Hough, England

If they just donated the money instead of offering a wrappers-for-goods approach (which will also boost sales by a complete coincidence) then I'd be a little more inclined to think companies like this had a social conscience and not just an interest in PR and profits.

My daughter is 11 and 11 stone
Helen Moore, S. Wales

My daughter is 11 and 11 stone (very overweight). I encourage her to eat healthy but unfortunately she has an overwhelming desire for chocolate. I am a single, responsible, working mother and do not have control over my daughter's eating habits when she is in after school care. As a parent I can only advise in these circumstances. This campaign would just be an excuse for her to buy more and eat more chocolate. Cadburys are not doing me any favours whatsoever. Thanks Cadburys...
Helen Moore, Newport, S. Wales

Surely it's up to the parents to govern their child's diet and health? If you don't like the products that companies sell, or if your child is overweight then don't buy them.
Adam Senior, England

I don't know what the fuss is about. Why single out Cadbury's when Coca Cola sponsor football, Mars bars are the official snack food of the Olympic team and Walker's crisps provide books for schools? That's an awful lot of sugar and fat connected with sport and education that no-one's batted an eyelid over in the past.
Karl, Leeds

I agree with Karl, Leeds. It is not up to companies to instil eating habits in children - that is what parents are for!
Jen B, UK

It's outrageous this type of marketing is aimed at children. I would like to see all product advertising aimed at children under 12 banned completely. I see my three-year-old son being heavily influenced by the barrage of television advertising aimed at his age during early morning kids programmes.
Declan Daly, UK

Isn't it sad that schools have to collect these type of promotions?
A Catley, UK

Do these people think we are stupid as parents? I won't be buying the chocolate just for the promotion, and my children are certainly not swayed by such things. But isn't it sad that schools have to collect these type of promotions to get sports equipment, books and other items? Why don't we see promotions on products for helping to buy bombs, war planes or even to pay MPs' ludicrous salary?
A Catley, UK

Since when were chocolate companies given responsibility for children's behaviour? It is their job to be in business and it is a parent's job to decide what their child can and cannot eat.
Stuart, UK

We used to collect tokens we needed from neighbours and friends. Whoever said that kids would need to consume the product? Ever heard of empty wrappers?
Susan, UK


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