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Sports celebrities routinely endorse unhealthy junk foods - Study

Saturday, October 12, 2013 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
Tags: sports celebrities, unhealthy junk foods, product endorsements

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(NaturalNews) Young audiences, especially teenagers, look up to sports stars as role models of fitness and athleticism. A new study finds that sports celebrities are routinely misleading young audiences because of their commercial endorsements of unhealthy junk foods. When a television commercial comes on showing Peyton Manning drinking a Gatorade, an entire generation is misled. Gatorade is a sugary drink that makes the body more acidic.

Sports drink ads deceiving young adults

Sports drinks like Gatorade wear a fake mask, covering up their acidifying, dye injected, sugary junk composition. When sports stars promote brands like Gatorade or McDonalds, they become the product's fake masks. They are partly responsible for misleading generations of young people toward unhealthy junk foods.

Since these star athletes have plenty of money to go around, why do they endorse junk food brands for big multimillion dollar contracts?

According to the new study, superstars like Serena Williams, Lebron James and Peyton Manning lead the way in promoting commercial products high in calories and devoid of nutrients. This, in turn, confuses the eyes and ears that look up to their example. In fact, 79 percent of 62 food products that athletes endorsed in 2010 can all be deemed junk foods, void of nutrition.

For example, when NBA star Lebron James is shown promoting McDonald's golden arches, an entire generation is compromised and duped into believing McDonald's is a smart, healthy choice. In reality, McDonald's food, especially their nuggets, isn't really food at all, but is a mixture of foreign
substances. McDonald's and Coca-Cola team up to pay LeBron James a solid $42 million each year to further their junk food cause.

McDonald's also pays Kobe Bryant an estimated $12 million per year to promote golden arch lies.

While tennis star Serena Williams promotes Oreos, Peyton Manning can be found accepting $12 million a year to promote Papa John's and Gatorade's images.

When stars endorse products like these, sales spike considerably, as many marketing studies confirm.

Do these athlete stars realize the power their influence has on watching eyes and listening ears? How might these superstars impact an entire generation of young people to make healthier choices? How might these superstars change the course of a generation suffering from rising obesity, heart disease and diabetes? What if superstars turned down endorsement deals with Coke and McDonald's and started running ads with the organic supplement industry or started promoting a non-GMO whole food cause?

Athlete-endorsed junk foods misconceived as healthy choices

Michael Rich, Boston pediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health says the findings are not startling "but are concerning, in part because athletes are a paragon of fitness. There's an implicit message that the athletes actually use these products and that the products are healthy."

The study, not designed to target specific athletes, instead examines the nutritional content of athlete-endorsed foods and how their superstar marketing of these products affects young audiences.

Teenagers were found to be the most reached audience. Teenagers "see the unhealthy ads everywhere on the TV, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet," says lead researcher Marie Bragg. "And that's troubling because teenagers often idolize sports stars."

Bragg's study looked closer at athlete endorsements in 2010, pinpointing 512 brands promoted by 100 athletes. 24 percent of the endorsements were for junk beverages and foods, most notably from McDonald's, Pepsi, Red Bull, Oreo, Mountain Dew and Burger King.

Their research found that the highest contributors to the junk food marketing were professional icons LeBron James, Peyton Manning and Serena Williams.

The most commonly promoted products were Gatorade and Powerade, which is clearly seen when one sifts through Sport Center and ESPN commercials.

According to the researchers, sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade are no different than sodas, because they originate 100 percent of their calories from sugar.

The marketing of these sports drinks makes teenagers believe the drinks are healthy. The evidence is seen among circles of young athletes. Most young athletes rely on sports drinks to replenish themselves when competing. The trend needs to change, since these drinks are an acidifying, dye loaded sugary concoction.

The researchers conclude, "Professional athletes have an important opportunity to promote the public's health, particularly for youth, by refusing endorsement contracts that involve promotion of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods and beverages."

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