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Top Athletes Promoting Unhealthy Food

A new study has found that a majority of the top 100 athletes' food and beverage endorsements were for unhealthy products.

LeBron James

Photo: Keith Allison (Flickr)

LeBron James caps Bloomberg's "Power 100" list.

Athletes And Advertisement

According to a new study, many of the nation’s top athletes have endorsement deals with companies that produce high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods. Given athletes’ high visibility and hero status, researchers worry this state of affairs will be bad for kids.

The study, which is published in the most recent edition of the journal Pediatrics, found that the athletes on Bloomberg’s “Power 100″ list tallied over 5oo endorsements among them, and roughly one quarter were related to food and drink products.

80 percent of the food products athletes endorsed were considered unhealthy, while a whopping 93 percent of the drinks were rich in added sugar.

Are Children Affected?

Researchers also found that it’s the commercials for food and drink products — as opposed to commercials for sporting apparel or other consumer goods — that youngsters are most likely to see.

The American Beverage Association has denied any malicious intent on the part of food and beverage companies, however, arguing in a statement that advertisers did not have children aged 12 and under as their target group when brokering athletic endorsements.

While the study didn’t delve into how athletes’ endorsements affected consumption habits, it did suggest that the influence athletes have on kids’ eating habits warrants a closer look in the future.

The athletes raking in the most from food and beverage endorsements include LeBron James, Peyton Manning and Serena Williams.

Read More:

  • Athlete Endorsements in Food Marketing (Pediatrics)
  • LeBron James, Serena Williams cash in on snack food endorsements (Los Angeles Times)
  • When Good Celebrities Promote Bad Foods (TIME)
  • If star athletes sell junk food — is your kid more likely to eat it? (NBC News)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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