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Athletes Promote Fast Foods Too Often, Report States

Update Date: Oct 07, 2013 11:18 AM EDT
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For many athletes in various sports, fitness, nutrition and diet are key factors in promoting a healthy body and lifestyle. Even though athletes learn how to care for their bodies through exercise and foods, a new paper is reporting that athletes are still promoting fast foods and junk foods too often. In this paper, the authors criticize the use of big name athletes, such as NFL (national football league) star quarterback, Peyton Manning, to help advertise food options that are not ideal for a healthy lifestyle.

"Our ultimate hope would be that athletes reject the unhealthy endorsements or, at the very least, promote healthy foods," the lead author of the study, Marie Bragg said according to NBC News. Bragg is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Yale University. "These athletes have an opportunity to work with parents. Instead, they're promoting really unhealthy foods."

In this report, the authors detailed the food contracts big name athletes are a part of. According to the authors, the biggest culprit is basketball star, LeBron James. James, who plays for the Miami Heats, brings in $42 million annually for his endorsements with McDonald's, Coca-Cola and other brands. Number two on the list is the Denver Bronco's Peyton Manning. Manning has contracts with Gatorade and Papa John's, which contribute to his $12 million annual earnings from endorsements. Manning also owns 21 Papa John's stores within the Denver region.

The third athlete on the list is America's leading female tennis player, Serena Williams. Williams has participated in advertisements for Oreo cookies and McDonald's. None of these three athletes have responded to this new paper. The report also revealed that in 2010, many professional athletes were a part of 44 different food or beverage brands. The team had looked at 512 brands in general that were endorsed by 100 athletes. Of these food brands, 79 percent of them are considered to be insufficient in nutrients. 93 percent of the beverage brands included drinks that were high in added sugar.

"When taking into account the nutrient quality of the products endorsed and the amount of advertising for each product, Peyton Manning, LeBron James, and Serena Williams are the highest contributors to the marketing of unhealthy foods," the authors wrote.

The authors stated that ideally, athletes should stop promoting foods and beverages that are not healthy. Since these brands are often targeted to youth, who also idolize these athletes, the likelihood that these adolescents will develop poor eating habits is high. However, even if there are risks involved with using big names to promote bad food and beverage options, the paper did not actually look for a relationship between these advertisements and consumption.

The report was published in Pediatrics

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