THE campaign being backed by Bishop Auckland St Mary’s Juniors in conjunction with Balance, the North East Alcohol Office is truly commendable.

They are using the start of the World Cup to highlight the damage that alcohol marketing can have on children and young people when it is aligned with glamorous sporting events.

A quick check on the various commercial partners linked to national and international football shows it is not just the drinks industry that uses sport as a way of marketing its products – the junk food giants are in there as well.

Coca-Cola is a partner of Fifa and Wembley, with the national stadium also having link-ups with Carlsberg, Walkers and Mars. The Premier League has Cadbury and Carling, while the FA has Mars and Carlsberg.

Balance claims that during Euro 2016, researchers found there were more than 100 alcohol marketing messages per televised match. If the junk food ads were factored in, the scale of the unhealthy message being beamed into the nations’ living rooms becomes almost overwhelming. Childhood obesity rates are rising fast, and these subtle messages must surely play a part in normalising food that should be restricted to occasional treats, and drink that can have the potential to cause huge harm.

Other countries have restricted alcohol sponsorship of sport – it has been banned in France since 1991. There is no reason England could not follow suit. It is time for a serious national debate on using sport to market alcohol – and junk food as well.