tv BBC Newsnight WHUT July 15, 2012 8:00am-8:30am EDT
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became an iconic image of the civil rights fight. more than 40 years later, he explains why he felt he had to speak out. >> i was blessed to use my talent to help those without a platform to voice an opinion, and this opinion was a unilateral opinion of dealing with human rights. >> and with this year's olympics opening -- opening in london later this month, meet the doctor who looked into the sponsorship deal attached to this global festival of sport and physical fitness. >> we're facing an obesity epidemic, and i find it of scene that the olympics chooses to associate itself with fast food, sugary drinks, chocolate, and alcohol. >> hello. this month, the united kingdom, in london in particular, will be the center of the world's attention. the olympics is a sporting event, the politics is never far
away. for a palestinian gunman in munich to an anti-abortion protest in atlanta, many are trying to use the olympics to make a political statement through violence. but our guest this week made a peaceful protest which captured global attention at the mexico olympics in 1968 and still resonates today. it turned him into a hate figure for some. my colleague spoke to the athlete and began by explaining how that historic protest came about. >> the african-american athletes tommie smith and john became first and third in the 200 meters in mexico city. and as they stood on the podium to accept their medals, they offer the world the black power salute. smith had cut 0.2 of the second of the previous record, but two of the finest athletes and their generation, they grew up in a country where, as john karolos but, the u.s. is not like you
might think it is for blacks and other people of color. but taking a stand on the olympics and cost him dearly. boos and the crowd were followed by outreach from the athletic establishment of the international olympic committee forced their expulsion from the u.s. olympic team and them from future competition. both men received death threats. the third man on the podium, a white australian, showed his support by wearing a human rights badge and bowling his head in solidarity during the national anthem. he, too, became a pariah and was snubbed by the australian national team won the olympics came to sydney in 2000. the salute is the subject of a new documentary entitled, fittingly enough, "salute," and is recognized by most people as a peaceful act of bravery and defiance that served as an inspiration to those struggling to secure civil rights for all
americans. it is one of the defining images of an era of protest. >> the man on the top of that podium, tommie smith, is here. why did you decide that you had to do that? >> at that particular time, it was something that had to be done. and i was an individual on a world platform to make this reality truthful. in reality, no one would deal with it, because no one had the platform that i had to dwhat was necessary, though it took a very, very devastating step toward being vilified because of what had to be done. did i want to do it? nope. but i had to do it. there are many cases where people might ask, well, do you regret doing it? the regret was that it had to be
done. and i was the one that did it. >> you absolutely must have known that people would hate you for it. >> well, i knew that it was not involved thing to do, to be on a world stage implementing a need for human actions among people that did not realize the need for love, only for hate, only to be world as an elitist because they had what others did not have. instead of sharing the profits, it was for this office -- selfish person. >> did you think that sports and politics would not mix? people watched the because you were an amazing runner. people did not care about politics. that is one argument. >> yes, you can run. but you cannot hide. there were facts that were real to me, and i was blessed to use my talents to help those who do not have a platform to voice an
opinion, and this opinion was a unilateral opinion dealing with human rights. and we open the minds up of those who were sedentary in their lives and not realizing the need for a coalition. it is very simple. >> can you see that, you know, right now there are problems in syria, cashmere, and with palestinians, all kinds of people to protest. some people have protested violently. of course, we have trouble with that. obviously, you did not do that. where do you draw the line? if everybody protested, it would be a complete mess. >> the line was drawn for me, simply because i did not go there to make a literal mess of the situation that was already messy. i wanted to highlight the need to straighten out mrs. that a lot of people thought was ok because they were above it or there were so far below it, it did not make sense. i was kind of in the middle.
i was living in that space. my life had been threatened on many occasions, but i still had to live honestly with tommie smith being in a position to help those who cannot help themselves. a case of using a platform. a lot of people believed it was not there for that purpose. >> where is your blog? >> well, you know, i do not know. it was not done to make a profit for later stages? you can tell where mind -- were my mind was, about human nature and not about financial nature. i could have sold my car, my shoes, my dog, my cat. >> it was quite a hard time for you, wasn't it? >> but my upbringing, i thought, was hard also. my father always told me, we go to work when we can see how to
do it. and the thought of seeing how to do it was open to everybody, but there are those who keep close ties -- eyes in an open situation. you reap what you sow. what i did in mexico city, i believe that i was going to reap the benefit, and i did. the benefit of honesty. >> i am trying to think of this 20-something athlete, you doing that in 1968, giving that silly, and 40 years later, the first african-american president in your country -- giving that salute. you could have never believed it. >> no, i could never have believed that would be happening. only through the issue spaces of life that were granted to me, i did what i could to promote a proactive american situation. that is what is happening now. even now with him being what it is, we're is, i think as
president, he happens to be black, but there are those on his side no matter what he does, and for some, it is not good enough. i think they would shoot themselves just to hurt them. >> if anybody knows where that glove is -- >> i will split the cost. bring it on. >> if we find it, we will make sure you get it. >> gavin esler speaking to tommie smith about the 1968 games. the old church-the 2012 athletes will be at the opening ceremony, and you probably would not think of them as it appears wiggling people. but some of the biggest sponsors of the games are coca-cola, cadbury, mcdonald's, and heineken. many in the medical profession fear that the world is now in an obesity crisis. in the developed world, that crisis is linked with sugary, processed foods. and logos will be at the games. in britain, the national health service, the nhs, is that the
front line of this crisis. for one doctor's personal assessment of the dangers, we turn to the nhs cardiologists. >> over the last 30 years, processed food has taken over the british a diet. over the past 30 years, obesity has more than doubled. now, as london prepares to host a global sporting celebration, processed food has taken over the olympics. >> it is a scandal that the food and drink industry are high profile sponsors of the olympic games. the olympics is supposed to be about fitness and health, and to associate them with products which are damaging our health, particularly our children's health, is quite wrong. >> the human heart is a thing of simplicity and wonder. it is designed tpump blood around your body at 60 beats per
minute for close on 80 years. unless you live in the diet of processed food. i work at the heart center in london where we have witnessed an explosion of diet-related diseases. by 2050, 90% of britain's population will be overweight. and treating obesity will cost the nhs 45 billion a year. the u.k. is on the verge of a major public health disaster. the cost of which could dwarf that about -- alcohol and tobacco and even cripple the in the chest. what is the most part a factor, sugar and carbohydrates added to processed food, i believe what we eat is killing us. >> this is not the same old warning about junk food. i am much more concerned about all processed food. processed foods and in view of the natural nutrients we need to
revive, yet are loaded with added sugars and carbohydrates, though the body does not need. the body converts them to fact. >> it took off in the u.k., the late 1970's, early 1990's. our consumption of processed foods have increased in parallel. it is now predominantly what we are eating, not the exception. it is our entire diet. >> zoey has studied the rise in its shares in our diets. she says we have it wrong. the body knows how to process the fats and proteins in foods like butter, meat, eggs but has no idea what to do it all the added sugars that appear in processed food. >> sugar is the only substance that humans in debt that has no nutritional value whatsoever. no essential facts, no proteins, no minerals. it really is quite unique in that respect. in terms of sugar, we either eat
it on top of vote we should be eating, in which kasich can make as fat, or -- in which case it can make as fat. we eat it instead. we end up sick. fat and sick at the same time. >> globally, diet-related diseases kill 35 million every year. that is five times more than tobacco. big food companies continue to make huge profits. in britain, the bill has fallen by the nhs and the taxpayer. in the shadow of the olympic stadium, doctors are facing an epidemic of diabetes. >> we're probably seeing a doubling of the number of patients diagnosed with type two diabetes over the last 10 years. i would say that about 40% to 50% of our -- related to diabetes or its complications. >> i have come to the surgery
two miles from the olympic park. the doctor says the majority of his resources already go towards fighting diet-related illness. diabetes is a multi-organ, multi-system disease that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and amputation. treating it early is vital. >> patients are presented with other conditions like high blood pressure related to the diabetes, high levels of cholesterol, some long-term complications of diabetes which can affect the eyes, the kidneys from chronic kidney disease. >> every day, they have to battle the effects of sugary foods. surely the olympics should be an occasion for countering these messages, not reinforcing them. we're facing an obesity epidemic, and i find it of scene that the olympics chooses to associate itself with fast food, sugary drinks, chocolate, and
alcohol. >> of course, the sponsors cannot be held accountable for britain's poor health, but their connection with the games since a dreadful message. i am not the only one to think so. >> i think it is quite shocking that companies like mcdonald's, coca-cola, cadbury, and heineken are the main food sponsors. these are products which are very well as a treat, but what olympics sponsorship allows them to do is promote their brands and insinuate them into people's daily diets. whether you're looking at obesity, whether you of looking at people's dental problems, whether you are even looking at the rising use of alcohol issue, these companies are the culprits. and they should not be such
prominent sponsors of the olympics. >> diane is not only the public health minister, she is also an east end mp. in the 19th century, the port faced illnesses like cholera and typhoid. today, areas are fresh food desserts and child obesity levels are rocketing, and the help of britain's pour is still determined by class. >> obesity is now a disease of poverty, and when you look at these statistics, as i have done, what you find is obesity is a bigger problem for people on lower incomes. for instance, just recently found out that the largest number and the rising number of gastric band operations for people who are heavily obese are amongst people with the lowest income. once upon a time, poor people cannot get enough to eat. nowadays, the health is threatened by obesity.
>> winning itself off the fast food in sugary drinks appears to be a problem for the international olympic committee, too. >> reno the negative health impacts of obesity, of processed foods and sugars. and i suppose the ioc now have a really challenging situation yes, they need the money from the sponsors, and that money has come in and really helped, but more on that, they benefited for many years of the reach of these sponsors have into new marketplaces to children. and it has really helped. another challenge is how they deal with the health impacts of that. >> but there seems little sign that the olympic movement will move away from its current sponsors. indeed, when challenged, the london organizers come up with a financial black hole that their
absence would create. but obesity will soon open up a much, much bigger black hole in the nhs' budget. it may not be a priority for the wanted olympics, but the cost of obesity are foremost in the mind of all of us to work to improve public health. >> the cardiologists there. obviously we asked to speak to someone from the london organizing committee and the ioc as well as the sponsors mentioned, but no one was available. they're plenty of statements from all of them on our website broadly saying that all is well and the olympics will not happen without their support. to discuss that further, gavin esler spoke to the former director of marketing for the international olympic committee. a british royal who has won two olympic golds. and the doctor. >> surely there must be better people to sponsor the olympics than some of these organizations. >> the problem of obesity today
is a major issue, but it has much to do with what people are eating and as a lifestyle agenda and people being active. >> associating the epitome of health on our planet with foods that make people of peace, even to excess, is a real problem. there is a bit mixed message. >> mcdonald's, from when they began becoming a sponsor of the olympics, we started to challenge them, asking how to broaden the agenda. so they introduced salads. the original testing and broadening of the oak -- menu was started the olympics. similar with coca-cola, spreading into sports drinks and nutritional drink. that has been driven over the last 20 years. it is not just the case of the revenue and funding these companies bring, not just to the games but the teams of sport. but the programs, health programs that the run -- you would not accept the money, would you. >> you can go after every
industry. >> do you think up please care about this? >> as an athlete -- a think people watch the olympics. they see a fast-food chain and a drinks chain sponsoring, and those are the products the athletes live on. >> when you are training, you may have a coca-cola or mcdonald's, but when training, you not have much of that in your diet. >> the athletes need to have self-discipline. also, in the 20 years as an athlete, i have -- not processed food. but you also have everything in moderation, and that is good.
the most important thing an athlete can do is that when they stop competing, they do not change shape. they do not balloon in weight. they keep moving. as long as you burn more calories than you put in and you eat the right thing. you want to show that you're healthy and fit, because that is what you need to do in order to win. the needs to be a guiding principle in life. >> let's bring in the doctor. would you expect that if you do not get companies to sponsor the olympics, there might not be an olympics? and it encourages people to take on sports which is part of a healthy lifestyle. it is good, in other words? >> first, i do not believe we need to rely purely on food companies that promote and healthy foods for the olympics. second, i want to take up this point of physical activity.
it is quite interesting. from my perspective, i think it is something that is used quite well by the food industry, almost to deflect from rate -- irresponsible marketing. if you look at the evidence, the physical activity levels have increased slightly. that may sound strange, but all the data suggest that our over consumption of sugar a junk food is the main factor contributing to obesity. and for example, if i was to have a bar of chocolate, a burger and chips, washed down with a soda, i would have to run for about five hours to burn off those calories. >> right. clearly there is a benefit for these companies in associating themselves with the help the living of athletes. in a way, the olympics is saying this is ok. you are endorsing it. >> i think the whole issue is whether you're taking these products in some moderation.
the programs that these sponsors are running, without it, in terms of not just the funding of the games that the programs around the world in getting kids active, the governments are cutting back. they're not putting the funding in. >> but you heard the doctor saying the question of exercise, you have to exercise for five hours to burn those off. >> would we be better off saying, let's not have the olympics? >> that is not what we are saying. we would be better off of the olympics were sponsored by somebody other than these people. >> where are the company stepping forward to fund the games? they're not there. they do not exist. each industry, whether it is environmental, every time the olympics come along, we get a call us and we cannot have that company. if the ioc to deposition and walked away from the company's common game over. no olympics. the challenges to make sure that these companies understand their responsibility and the way that the ioc has --
>> doctor, you are a spoilsport. if you had your way, there might not be the olympics. >> not exactly. look at the statistics. in 2004, the who announced that obesity was a global epidemic. yet, eight years later, we have the olympics on our own term, and statistics say we have one in three children by the age of nine who are either overweight or obese. so the intervention about physical activity, as far as i am concerned, the most effective intervention needs to be a public health strategy that targets the population as a whole. you have to remember, the olympic games is the most effective international marketing platform in the world. over 200 countries and reaching billions of people. and the main sponsors are associated with unhealthy foods. i am most concerned about the children. >> ok, but you have got a
responsibility, not just not to get fat in your old age because you are not training so much, but actually to set an example while you are training. you are a role model. >> there is a responsibility. obesity is a hugely complex issue. to just say it is one sport ery four years in the company's sponsor it, that creates an obesity problem. if you say one in three children under the age of nine arby's, they will have had one, possibly two olympic games during that time. it is complex issue. it is something we need to make sure that there are people falling through the gaps, somehow we support them in every other way. but it is absolutely crucial to change the way that we leave a sedentary life. >> and the olympics plays a part in that. >> it is not just the food and drink products.
whether it is technology, whether it is television companies, there are so many other sponsors. >> we will leave it there. gavin esler there. that is all for this week. from all of us, goodbye. >> funding for this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu. newman's own foundation. union bank. and shell. >> at union bank, our relationship managers work hard
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