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27/01/03 . n/a . Reuters . UK  
Watchdog blasts football's "junk food" ties  
LONDON (Reuters) - A leading food watchdog has showed top football clubs including Manchester United a red card for forging lucrative links with fast-food and soft drinks companies.  

The Food Commission, an independent watchdog, criticised nine clubs in the top-flight Premier League on Monday for promoting what it called "junky foods and drinks" to children.

The commission criticised Manchester United for its link-up with Pepsi and Sunderland City for accepting sponsorship from Coca Cola and McDonald's, saying players wouldn't eat those foods before games.

It also blasted the sport's coordinating body, the Football Association, for circulating nutrition advice to schools and football academies written and sponsored by two chocolate bar brands.

"None of the food brands promoted by Premier League clubs and the Football Association should be eaten by footballers in the run-up to a game," said Annie Seeley, a nutritionist and Food Commission spokeswoman.

"Top footballers could be excellent role models for children, demonstrating the link between good diet and good health ... instead we see adverts showing top players drinking soft drinks and eating crisps and chocolate bars," she said.

Health experts have recently sounded alarm bells over rising levels of obesity, suggesting that Britons should reduce the portions of convenience foods and snacks they eat to help improve their health.

In the same report, the Food Commission said the amount of salt found in some processed foods such as canned baked beans and tomato soup and white bread had doubled since 1978.

Some fast-food meals targeted at children would push a six-year-old over the daily maximum salt intake with just one serving, it said.  
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