News

Sports stars endorse sugary, fatty foods

Sports stars endorse sugary, fatty foods

SELLING SUGAR: Sports stars, including LeBron James, often promote products that are less than healthy. Photo: Associated Press

By Genevra Pittman

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – When Miami Heat star LeBron James isn’t scoring baskets, he’s busy – selling soda, sports drinks and fast food.

But James isn’t alone. In a new study, many top U.S. athletes, from Peyton Manning to Serena Williams, were all over television promoting food and drinks, most of which aren’t very healthy.

“We see these people – they’ve obviously (reached the top) of sports achievement, they’re obviously living a healthy lifestyle – and they’re endorsing these foods. And that kind of lends an aura of healthfulness to these foods and beverages that they don’t deserve,” said Emma Boyland, from the University of Liverpool in the UK.

“The message is really getting mixed up,” added Boyland. She studies marketing and children’s food choices but didn’t work on the new research.

The new study was led by Marie Bragg from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

She and her team compiled a list of advertising deals for 100 top athletes. In 2010, those athletes endorsed a total of 512 brands. About a quarter were food and beverages.

The athletes endorsed 62 food products, including burgers, cookies and cereal. Forty-nine of the 62 were high in calories and low in nutritional value.

They also endorsed 46 sports drinks, sodas and other beverages. And in 43 of those, all the calories came from added sugar, the research team wrote Monday in Pediatrics.

“What stood out to us was the striking irony of the practice of having the world’s most physically fit athletes endorsing these products,” Bragg said.

Based on TV viewing data, Bragg’s team found that teens saw more of the ads by athletes during the year than adults.

“We know that children and (teens) are really affected by this type of thing,” Boyland told Reuters Health. “We know that influences the type of foods they choose and they eat.”

It’s also clear that such selling tactics work, researchers said. The proof, they say, is that companies will pay athletes millions to endorse a product.

Bragg said parents should be aware that many products being marketed to children may be of questionable nutritional quality.

“Just because they’re athletes doesn’t mean that what they’re endorsing is healthy,” she told Reuters Health.

She said putting limits on TV watching is one step parents can take to reduce the influence of marketing.

Kathleen Keller has studied food branding and eating habits at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park. She says parents should explain how advertising works to children.

That’s because even if kids don’t watch TV at home, they will still end up seeing ads all over the place, she told Reuters Health.

“Within your home you can really teach your kids from a young age about what the purpose of marketing is, what the purpose of advertising is,” Keller said.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/cxXOG Pediatrics, online October 7, 2013.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Sept. 18

Fresh
In this undated photo, Jimi Hendrix performs with a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. The Stratocaster, used by countless professional and amateur musicians, celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2014.

A look back on some of Hollywood's most memorable moments.

in Entertainment, Weird

‘Frozen’ wedding gown for brides who can’t ‘Let it Go’

frozen

Brides everywhere can soon get married in true Disney fairytale style.

in Entertainment

Taylor Swift leads ‘best dressed’ list

taylorswift

The annual list of celebrity style icons includes Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o, Rihanna, and Blake Shelton.

in Music

Miranda Lambert gets emotional singing to sick child

21-overlay3

WATCH: While performing "Over You" the country star is overcome by the bravery of a young fan.

in Entertainment, Sports

‘NBA 2K15′ adds 3D face mapping for latest game

nba

"NBA 2K15" is angling for a slam dunk with an innovative new feature that allows players to put their game faces on.