Fans, especially kids, look up to celebrity stars as their models, but what happened if these celebrities endorse unhealthy food?
Lebron James is currently one of the most influential basketball players. The two-time MVP and player of the Miami Heat earned $13 million and $20 million in endorsement deals last year.
According to a study published by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University in the journal Pediatrics on October 7, it was found that a majority of the food endorsed by sports stars is considered unhealthy.
The study also stated that top 100 athletes endorse 512 brands and 122 of them, or one fourth were food and beverages; 44 different brands in 2010, the year studied by researchers from Yale, Stanford, Duke and Harvard universities.
The study also found that of the 62 food products endorsed by athletes in 2010, 79% were “energy-dense and nutrient-poor” while 93% of the 73 beverage products got all of their calories from additive sugar.
This led to pediatricians worrying about kids getting the wrong message from celebrities.
James inked a multi-million dollar endorsement with McDonald’s, Vitaminwater, Powerade, Sprite and Bubblicious gum while Manning signed with Gatorade, Orea, and pizza chain Papa John’s. Williams has endorsed Gatorade and Nabisco 100 Calorie Pack Snacks.
"Professional athletes wouldn't endorse tobacco today because it would be a liability for them. We're hoping one day that the same would be true for unhealthy foods," said lead study author Marie Bragg, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Yale University.
“The striking irony here is that you have some of the world’s most physically fit athletes promoting really unhealthy foods,” added Bragg.
The World Health Organization reported that junk food to kids serves “disastrously effective” and can fuel a global obesity epidemic. Eighty percent of U.S. teens are also on their way to developing heart diseases due to too much sugar, salt and fat intake.