Isn’t it ironic that athletes and celebrities in absolutely fantastic shape get paid millions of dollars to promote junk food that they wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole? It does make sense though – seeing gorgeous stars promote junk food probably makes you unconsciously believe that you too can stay thin and beautiful even while eating that stuff. Although it seems obvious that parents and other people would be more likely to buy junk food touted by an athlete than junk food hawked by Joe “Couch Potato” Schmoe, scientists did do a study to scientifically prove the point. It’s official: if an athlete promotes a food that could be considered less healthy, parents are more likely to buy it.
The participants in this study were 1,500 parents that had children between the ages of 5 and 12. Not only were participants more likely to buy said food, they also felt the food in question was healthier and of a higher quality. More than half of the participants didn’t even bother to check the label and see what the nutritional value of the food was.
The use of athletes and celebrities to sell junk food doesn’t just affect parents – it affects children as well. When a much idolized actor gets up to sell junk food, they’re sending a message that if you want to be like that actor, you need to eat this food. It’s a subtle message, but a powerful one – why do you think Coca-Cola sponsors American Idol? Because when Paula, Randy and Simon drink from the prominently displayed Coca-Cola cups, fans subconsciously take in the idea that to be like the judges or to get on the show, you have to drink Coke.
This type of thinking is well-known to advertisers, and unfortunately, in a world where buying junk food significantly contributes to the global obesity epidemic, these are not harmless concepts; in 2010, the World Health Organization found that 42 million children around the world were overweight. Children grow up taking in the ideas they see around them, including seemingly benign concepts found in advertisements. Seeing beautiful men and women promoting junk food does nothing good for their eating habits or body image.
One crusader against obesity is the Children’s International Obesity Foundation (CIOF). In an attempt to cut down on celebrity and athlete endorsements, they have taken a public stand against such advertising tactics. For example, in 2008, Olypmic gold medalist Michael Phelps accepted a deal to endorse Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and to become an “ambassador” for McDonalds. CIOF issued a statement asking Phelps to reconsider these deals and consider how his influence would affect children who viewed him as their role model. Hopefully, athletes and celebrities can realize that refraining from peddling empty calories will do more good for the world then buying yet another Mazarati with their advertising checks.
Donald Farber wrote this article. To learn more about healthy living and insurance coverage visit Donald’s website Life Cover.