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TV Makes Teens Eat Tons More Junk Food, Study Says

TV Makes Teens Eat Tons More Junk Food, Study Says


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It’s not uncommon for teens to binge-watch their favorite TV shows after a long day at school. According to a report by Cancer Research UK, the junk food advertisements that often play on commercial television can influence teens to eat hundreds more junk food snacks than their non-TV-watching peers.

Teens whose afternoons are assailed by advertisements for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and drinks could be influenced to eat 500 extra junk food snacks over the course of a single year. Research showed that TV sessions of three hours or more proved most influential over teens’ dietary habits. After watching that much TV, teens reportedly ate more chips, cookies, sodas, and “takeaways,” the British term for take-out or delivery meals such as fast food and pizza.

When teens watched the same amount of TV but with the junk food ads removed, their snacking was unaffected.

“This is the strongest evidence yet that junk food adverts could increase how much teens choose to eat,” said Dr. Jyotsna Vohra, lead author of the study. “We’re not claiming that every teenager who watches commercial TV will gorge on junk food but this research suggests there is a strong association between advertisements and eating habits.” TV ads for junk food often feature slang, references to current trends, fun character plots, and other manipulative tactics geared towards teens.

While junk food brands themselves are likely thrilled at the efficacy of their advertising, health officials are concerned. Regular consumption of sodas, candies, and other junk food in replacement of other nutritious snacks has been linked to serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and even behavioral abnormalities.

The researchers believe that the correlation should influence Ofcom, the United Kingdom’s government-approved regulatory organization for communications and media, to impose new limitations on the advertisements teens are seeing on TV.

“Ofcom must stop junk food adverts being shown during programs that are popular with young people,” insisted Dr. Vohra, “such as talent shows and football matches, where there’s currently no regulation.”

If you’re wondering what snacks these scientists are so worried about, they’re likely against frequent consumption of items like these — the 8 unhealthiest snacks in the junk food aisle.


Star Athletes Often Endorse Junk Food, Study Says

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Professional athletes may be known for their fitness, but the foods they endorse are usually less than healthy, a new study finds.

The study found that food and beverages promoted by the likes of Peyton Manning and Serena Williams are most often high in calories and devoid of nutrients. Of 62 food products athletes endorsed in 2010, 79 percent fell into the junk food category. And nearly all athlete-promoted beverages got 100 percent of their calories from sugar.

Experts said the findings, reported online Oct. 7 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, are not startling.

But they are concerning, in part because athletes are paragons of fitness, said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, in Boston.

"There's an implicit message that the athletes actually use these products, and that (the products) are healthy," said Rich, who did not work on the study.

Linking an athlete to a food or drink "could lend it a health halo," agreed Marie Bragg, the lead researcher on the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The finding that athletes endorse nutritionally suspect foods is no surprise, according to Bragg. "I think everyone has the sense that this is what's happening, just based on what we see," she said.

But, she added, this study actually examined the nutritional content of athlete-endorsed foods, and looked at the marketing reach of those ads.

"You see them everywhere -- TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet," Bragg said. And based on Nielsen data, her team found, teenagers see those TV ads more often than adults do.

That's troubling, Bragg said, because teenagers often idolize sports stars.

And, Rich added, "kids are much more likely to see TV ads than to read nutrition labels on products."

For the study, Bragg's team looked at data on athlete endorsements during 2010. Of 512 brands hawked by 100 athletes, 24 percent were for food and beverages -- including McDonald's, Burger King, Oreos, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Red Bull.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat (National Basketball Association), Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (National Football League) and tennis star Serena Williams were the "highest contributors to the marketing of unhealthy foods," Bragg's team reported.

Perhaps not surprisingly, athletes most commonly promoted sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. But the researchers considered any drink that gets 100 percent of its calories from sugar as unhealthy -- and sports beverages fall into that category.

"Sports drinks are basically soda," Rich said. But consumers, particularly kids, may view them as health foods, he noted.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the industry, said its members have been careful to avoid targeting young children.

"This study, in fact, reaffirms that children younger than 12 are not the age group primarily viewing food- and beverage-related advertisements that include professional athletes," the group said in a statement. "Our industry offers consumers a variety of choices to help make informed decisions and we respect parents' roles as the primary decision makers in choosing what their children consume."

Rich agreed, saying parents need to be savvy consumers and teach their kids to do the same. He suggested that when an athlete endorsement pops up on your TV screen, talk to your kids about it. "Let them know, just because Peyton Manning is sitting by a jug of Gatorade, that doesn't mean Gatorade made him what he is today," Rich said.

Bragg agreed, but "just being aware isn't enough," she added.

"Ideally, athletes would stop promoting unhealthy foods," Bragg said. And if parents are really concerned, she noted, they could "find ways to be vocal about it" -- such as supporting nutrition advocacy groups.

What this study cannot say is whether kids, or adults, actually eat more junk food because of athletes' endorsements. Both Rich and Bragg pointed to the millions of dollars that companies are willing to pay athletes: NBA star Kobe Bryant earned an estimated $12 million per year from his contract with McDonald's, Bragg's team wrote.

"If companies are investing that much," Bragg said, "I think it's safe to assume there's a reason."


Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Star Athletes Often Endorse Junk Food, Study Says

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Professional athletes may be known for their fitness, but the foods they endorse are usually less than healthy, a new study finds.

The study found that food and beverages promoted by the likes of Peyton Manning and Serena Williams are most often high in calories and devoid of nutrients. Of 62 food products athletes endorsed in 2010, 79 percent fell into the junk food category. And nearly all athlete-promoted beverages got 100 percent of their calories from sugar.

Experts said the findings, reported online Oct. 7 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, are not startling.

But they are concerning, in part because athletes are paragons of fitness, said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, in Boston.

"There's an implicit message that the athletes actually use these products, and that (the products) are healthy," said Rich, who did not work on the study.

Linking an athlete to a food or drink "could lend it a health halo," agreed Marie Bragg, the lead researcher on the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The finding that athletes endorse nutritionally suspect foods is no surprise, according to Bragg. "I think everyone has the sense that this is what's happening, just based on what we see," she said.

But, she added, this study actually examined the nutritional content of athlete-endorsed foods, and looked at the marketing reach of those ads.

"You see them everywhere -- TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet," Bragg said. And based on Nielsen data, her team found, teenagers see those TV ads more often than adults do.

That's troubling, Bragg said, because teenagers often idolize sports stars.

And, Rich added, "kids are much more likely to see TV ads than to read nutrition labels on products."

For the study, Bragg's team looked at data on athlete endorsements during 2010. Of 512 brands hawked by 100 athletes, 24 percent were for food and beverages -- including McDonald's, Burger King, Oreos, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Red Bull.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat (National Basketball Association), Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (National Football League) and tennis star Serena Williams were the "highest contributors to the marketing of unhealthy foods," Bragg's team reported.

Perhaps not surprisingly, athletes most commonly promoted sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. But the researchers considered any drink that gets 100 percent of its calories from sugar as unhealthy -- and sports beverages fall into that category.

"Sports drinks are basically soda," Rich said. But consumers, particularly kids, may view them as health foods, he noted.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the industry, said its members have been careful to avoid targeting young children.

"This study, in fact, reaffirms that children younger than 12 are not the age group primarily viewing food- and beverage-related advertisements that include professional athletes," the group said in a statement. "Our industry offers consumers a variety of choices to help make informed decisions and we respect parents' roles as the primary decision makers in choosing what their children consume."

Rich agreed, saying parents need to be savvy consumers and teach their kids to do the same. He suggested that when an athlete endorsement pops up on your TV screen, talk to your kids about it. "Let them know, just because Peyton Manning is sitting by a jug of Gatorade, that doesn't mean Gatorade made him what he is today," Rich said.

Bragg agreed, but "just being aware isn't enough," she added.

"Ideally, athletes would stop promoting unhealthy foods," Bragg said. And if parents are really concerned, she noted, they could "find ways to be vocal about it" -- such as supporting nutrition advocacy groups.

What this study cannot say is whether kids, or adults, actually eat more junk food because of athletes' endorsements. Both Rich and Bragg pointed to the millions of dollars that companies are willing to pay athletes: NBA star Kobe Bryant earned an estimated $12 million per year from his contract with McDonald's, Bragg's team wrote.

"If companies are investing that much," Bragg said, "I think it's safe to assume there's a reason."


Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Star Athletes Often Endorse Junk Food, Study Says

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Professional athletes may be known for their fitness, but the foods they endorse are usually less than healthy, a new study finds.

The study found that food and beverages promoted by the likes of Peyton Manning and Serena Williams are most often high in calories and devoid of nutrients. Of 62 food products athletes endorsed in 2010, 79 percent fell into the junk food category. And nearly all athlete-promoted beverages got 100 percent of their calories from sugar.

Experts said the findings, reported online Oct. 7 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, are not startling.

But they are concerning, in part because athletes are paragons of fitness, said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, in Boston.

"There's an implicit message that the athletes actually use these products, and that (the products) are healthy," said Rich, who did not work on the study.

Linking an athlete to a food or drink "could lend it a health halo," agreed Marie Bragg, the lead researcher on the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The finding that athletes endorse nutritionally suspect foods is no surprise, according to Bragg. "I think everyone has the sense that this is what's happening, just based on what we see," she said.

But, she added, this study actually examined the nutritional content of athlete-endorsed foods, and looked at the marketing reach of those ads.

"You see them everywhere -- TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet," Bragg said. And based on Nielsen data, her team found, teenagers see those TV ads more often than adults do.

That's troubling, Bragg said, because teenagers often idolize sports stars.

And, Rich added, "kids are much more likely to see TV ads than to read nutrition labels on products."

For the study, Bragg's team looked at data on athlete endorsements during 2010. Of 512 brands hawked by 100 athletes, 24 percent were for food and beverages -- including McDonald's, Burger King, Oreos, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Red Bull.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat (National Basketball Association), Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (National Football League) and tennis star Serena Williams were the "highest contributors to the marketing of unhealthy foods," Bragg's team reported.

Perhaps not surprisingly, athletes most commonly promoted sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. But the researchers considered any drink that gets 100 percent of its calories from sugar as unhealthy -- and sports beverages fall into that category.

"Sports drinks are basically soda," Rich said. But consumers, particularly kids, may view them as health foods, he noted.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the industry, said its members have been careful to avoid targeting young children.

"This study, in fact, reaffirms that children younger than 12 are not the age group primarily viewing food- and beverage-related advertisements that include professional athletes," the group said in a statement. "Our industry offers consumers a variety of choices to help make informed decisions and we respect parents' roles as the primary decision makers in choosing what their children consume."

Rich agreed, saying parents need to be savvy consumers and teach their kids to do the same. He suggested that when an athlete endorsement pops up on your TV screen, talk to your kids about it. "Let them know, just because Peyton Manning is sitting by a jug of Gatorade, that doesn't mean Gatorade made him what he is today," Rich said.

Bragg agreed, but "just being aware isn't enough," she added.

"Ideally, athletes would stop promoting unhealthy foods," Bragg said. And if parents are really concerned, she noted, they could "find ways to be vocal about it" -- such as supporting nutrition advocacy groups.

What this study cannot say is whether kids, or adults, actually eat more junk food because of athletes' endorsements. Both Rich and Bragg pointed to the millions of dollars that companies are willing to pay athletes: NBA star Kobe Bryant earned an estimated $12 million per year from his contract with McDonald's, Bragg's team wrote.

"If companies are investing that much," Bragg said, "I think it's safe to assume there's a reason."


Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Star Athletes Often Endorse Junk Food, Study Says

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Professional athletes may be known for their fitness, but the foods they endorse are usually less than healthy, a new study finds.

The study found that food and beverages promoted by the likes of Peyton Manning and Serena Williams are most often high in calories and devoid of nutrients. Of 62 food products athletes endorsed in 2010, 79 percent fell into the junk food category. And nearly all athlete-promoted beverages got 100 percent of their calories from sugar.

Experts said the findings, reported online Oct. 7 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, are not startling.

But they are concerning, in part because athletes are paragons of fitness, said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, in Boston.

"There's an implicit message that the athletes actually use these products, and that (the products) are healthy," said Rich, who did not work on the study.

Linking an athlete to a food or drink "could lend it a health halo," agreed Marie Bragg, the lead researcher on the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The finding that athletes endorse nutritionally suspect foods is no surprise, according to Bragg. "I think everyone has the sense that this is what's happening, just based on what we see," she said.

But, she added, this study actually examined the nutritional content of athlete-endorsed foods, and looked at the marketing reach of those ads.

"You see them everywhere -- TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet," Bragg said. And based on Nielsen data, her team found, teenagers see those TV ads more often than adults do.

That's troubling, Bragg said, because teenagers often idolize sports stars.

And, Rich added, "kids are much more likely to see TV ads than to read nutrition labels on products."

For the study, Bragg's team looked at data on athlete endorsements during 2010. Of 512 brands hawked by 100 athletes, 24 percent were for food and beverages -- including McDonald's, Burger King, Oreos, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Red Bull.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat (National Basketball Association), Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (National Football League) and tennis star Serena Williams were the "highest contributors to the marketing of unhealthy foods," Bragg's team reported.

Perhaps not surprisingly, athletes most commonly promoted sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. But the researchers considered any drink that gets 100 percent of its calories from sugar as unhealthy -- and sports beverages fall into that category.

"Sports drinks are basically soda," Rich said. But consumers, particularly kids, may view them as health foods, he noted.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the industry, said its members have been careful to avoid targeting young children.

"This study, in fact, reaffirms that children younger than 12 are not the age group primarily viewing food- and beverage-related advertisements that include professional athletes," the group said in a statement. "Our industry offers consumers a variety of choices to help make informed decisions and we respect parents' roles as the primary decision makers in choosing what their children consume."

Rich agreed, saying parents need to be savvy consumers and teach their kids to do the same. He suggested that when an athlete endorsement pops up on your TV screen, talk to your kids about it. "Let them know, just because Peyton Manning is sitting by a jug of Gatorade, that doesn't mean Gatorade made him what he is today," Rich said.

Bragg agreed, but "just being aware isn't enough," she added.

"Ideally, athletes would stop promoting unhealthy foods," Bragg said. And if parents are really concerned, she noted, they could "find ways to be vocal about it" -- such as supporting nutrition advocacy groups.

What this study cannot say is whether kids, or adults, actually eat more junk food because of athletes' endorsements. Both Rich and Bragg pointed to the millions of dollars that companies are willing to pay athletes: NBA star Kobe Bryant earned an estimated $12 million per year from his contract with McDonald's, Bragg's team wrote.

"If companies are investing that much," Bragg said, "I think it's safe to assume there's a reason."


Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Star Athletes Often Endorse Junk Food, Study Says

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Professional athletes may be known for their fitness, but the foods they endorse are usually less than healthy, a new study finds.

The study found that food and beverages promoted by the likes of Peyton Manning and Serena Williams are most often high in calories and devoid of nutrients. Of 62 food products athletes endorsed in 2010, 79 percent fell into the junk food category. And nearly all athlete-promoted beverages got 100 percent of their calories from sugar.

Experts said the findings, reported online Oct. 7 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, are not startling.

But they are concerning, in part because athletes are paragons of fitness, said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, in Boston.

"There's an implicit message that the athletes actually use these products, and that (the products) are healthy," said Rich, who did not work on the study.

Linking an athlete to a food or drink "could lend it a health halo," agreed Marie Bragg, the lead researcher on the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The finding that athletes endorse nutritionally suspect foods is no surprise, according to Bragg. "I think everyone has the sense that this is what's happening, just based on what we see," she said.

But, she added, this study actually examined the nutritional content of athlete-endorsed foods, and looked at the marketing reach of those ads.

"You see them everywhere -- TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet," Bragg said. And based on Nielsen data, her team found, teenagers see those TV ads more often than adults do.

That's troubling, Bragg said, because teenagers often idolize sports stars.

And, Rich added, "kids are much more likely to see TV ads than to read nutrition labels on products."

For the study, Bragg's team looked at data on athlete endorsements during 2010. Of 512 brands hawked by 100 athletes, 24 percent were for food and beverages -- including McDonald's, Burger King, Oreos, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Red Bull.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat (National Basketball Association), Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (National Football League) and tennis star Serena Williams were the "highest contributors to the marketing of unhealthy foods," Bragg's team reported.

Perhaps not surprisingly, athletes most commonly promoted sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. But the researchers considered any drink that gets 100 percent of its calories from sugar as unhealthy -- and sports beverages fall into that category.

"Sports drinks are basically soda," Rich said. But consumers, particularly kids, may view them as health foods, he noted.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the industry, said its members have been careful to avoid targeting young children.

"This study, in fact, reaffirms that children younger than 12 are not the age group primarily viewing food- and beverage-related advertisements that include professional athletes," the group said in a statement. "Our industry offers consumers a variety of choices to help make informed decisions and we respect parents' roles as the primary decision makers in choosing what their children consume."

Rich agreed, saying parents need to be savvy consumers and teach their kids to do the same. He suggested that when an athlete endorsement pops up on your TV screen, talk to your kids about it. "Let them know, just because Peyton Manning is sitting by a jug of Gatorade, that doesn't mean Gatorade made him what he is today," Rich said.

Bragg agreed, but "just being aware isn't enough," she added.

"Ideally, athletes would stop promoting unhealthy foods," Bragg said. And if parents are really concerned, she noted, they could "find ways to be vocal about it" -- such as supporting nutrition advocacy groups.

What this study cannot say is whether kids, or adults, actually eat more junk food because of athletes' endorsements. Both Rich and Bragg pointed to the millions of dollars that companies are willing to pay athletes: NBA star Kobe Bryant earned an estimated $12 million per year from his contract with McDonald's, Bragg's team wrote.

"If companies are investing that much," Bragg said, "I think it's safe to assume there's a reason."


Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Star Athletes Often Endorse Junk Food, Study Says

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Professional athletes may be known for their fitness, but the foods they endorse are usually less than healthy, a new study finds.

The study found that food and beverages promoted by the likes of Peyton Manning and Serena Williams are most often high in calories and devoid of nutrients. Of 62 food products athletes endorsed in 2010, 79 percent fell into the junk food category. And nearly all athlete-promoted beverages got 100 percent of their calories from sugar.

Experts said the findings, reported online Oct. 7 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, are not startling.

But they are concerning, in part because athletes are paragons of fitness, said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, in Boston.

"There's an implicit message that the athletes actually use these products, and that (the products) are healthy," said Rich, who did not work on the study.

Linking an athlete to a food or drink "could lend it a health halo," agreed Marie Bragg, the lead researcher on the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The finding that athletes endorse nutritionally suspect foods is no surprise, according to Bragg. "I think everyone has the sense that this is what's happening, just based on what we see," she said.

But, she added, this study actually examined the nutritional content of athlete-endorsed foods, and looked at the marketing reach of those ads.

"You see them everywhere -- TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet," Bragg said. And based on Nielsen data, her team found, teenagers see those TV ads more often than adults do.

That's troubling, Bragg said, because teenagers often idolize sports stars.

And, Rich added, "kids are much more likely to see TV ads than to read nutrition labels on products."

For the study, Bragg's team looked at data on athlete endorsements during 2010. Of 512 brands hawked by 100 athletes, 24 percent were for food and beverages -- including McDonald's, Burger King, Oreos, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Red Bull.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat (National Basketball Association), Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (National Football League) and tennis star Serena Williams were the "highest contributors to the marketing of unhealthy foods," Bragg's team reported.

Perhaps not surprisingly, athletes most commonly promoted sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. But the researchers considered any drink that gets 100 percent of its calories from sugar as unhealthy -- and sports beverages fall into that category.

"Sports drinks are basically soda," Rich said. But consumers, particularly kids, may view them as health foods, he noted.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the industry, said its members have been careful to avoid targeting young children.

"This study, in fact, reaffirms that children younger than 12 are not the age group primarily viewing food- and beverage-related advertisements that include professional athletes," the group said in a statement. "Our industry offers consumers a variety of choices to help make informed decisions and we respect parents' roles as the primary decision makers in choosing what their children consume."

Rich agreed, saying parents need to be savvy consumers and teach their kids to do the same. He suggested that when an athlete endorsement pops up on your TV screen, talk to your kids about it. "Let them know, just because Peyton Manning is sitting by a jug of Gatorade, that doesn't mean Gatorade made him what he is today," Rich said.

Bragg agreed, but "just being aware isn't enough," she added.

"Ideally, athletes would stop promoting unhealthy foods," Bragg said. And if parents are really concerned, she noted, they could "find ways to be vocal about it" -- such as supporting nutrition advocacy groups.

What this study cannot say is whether kids, or adults, actually eat more junk food because of athletes' endorsements. Both Rich and Bragg pointed to the millions of dollars that companies are willing to pay athletes: NBA star Kobe Bryant earned an estimated $12 million per year from his contract with McDonald's, Bragg's team wrote.

"If companies are investing that much," Bragg said, "I think it's safe to assume there's a reason."


Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Star Athletes Often Endorse Junk Food, Study Says

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Professional athletes may be known for their fitness, but the foods they endorse are usually less than healthy, a new study finds.

The study found that food and beverages promoted by the likes of Peyton Manning and Serena Williams are most often high in calories and devoid of nutrients. Of 62 food products athletes endorsed in 2010, 79 percent fell into the junk food category. And nearly all athlete-promoted beverages got 100 percent of their calories from sugar.

Experts said the findings, reported online Oct. 7 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, are not startling.

But they are concerning, in part because athletes are paragons of fitness, said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, in Boston.

"There's an implicit message that the athletes actually use these products, and that (the products) are healthy," said Rich, who did not work on the study.

Linking an athlete to a food or drink "could lend it a health halo," agreed Marie Bragg, the lead researcher on the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The finding that athletes endorse nutritionally suspect foods is no surprise, according to Bragg. "I think everyone has the sense that this is what's happening, just based on what we see," she said.

But, she added, this study actually examined the nutritional content of athlete-endorsed foods, and looked at the marketing reach of those ads.

"You see them everywhere -- TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet," Bragg said. And based on Nielsen data, her team found, teenagers see those TV ads more often than adults do.

That's troubling, Bragg said, because teenagers often idolize sports stars.

And, Rich added, "kids are much more likely to see TV ads than to read nutrition labels on products."

For the study, Bragg's team looked at data on athlete endorsements during 2010. Of 512 brands hawked by 100 athletes, 24 percent were for food and beverages -- including McDonald's, Burger King, Oreos, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Red Bull.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat (National Basketball Association), Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (National Football League) and tennis star Serena Williams were the "highest contributors to the marketing of unhealthy foods," Bragg's team reported.

Perhaps not surprisingly, athletes most commonly promoted sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. But the researchers considered any drink that gets 100 percent of its calories from sugar as unhealthy -- and sports beverages fall into that category.

"Sports drinks are basically soda," Rich said. But consumers, particularly kids, may view them as health foods, he noted.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the industry, said its members have been careful to avoid targeting young children.

"This study, in fact, reaffirms that children younger than 12 are not the age group primarily viewing food- and beverage-related advertisements that include professional athletes," the group said in a statement. "Our industry offers consumers a variety of choices to help make informed decisions and we respect parents' roles as the primary decision makers in choosing what their children consume."

Rich agreed, saying parents need to be savvy consumers and teach their kids to do the same. He suggested that when an athlete endorsement pops up on your TV screen, talk to your kids about it. "Let them know, just because Peyton Manning is sitting by a jug of Gatorade, that doesn't mean Gatorade made him what he is today," Rich said.

Bragg agreed, but "just being aware isn't enough," she added.

"Ideally, athletes would stop promoting unhealthy foods," Bragg said. And if parents are really concerned, she noted, they could "find ways to be vocal about it" -- such as supporting nutrition advocacy groups.

What this study cannot say is whether kids, or adults, actually eat more junk food because of athletes' endorsements. Both Rich and Bragg pointed to the millions of dollars that companies are willing to pay athletes: NBA star Kobe Bryant earned an estimated $12 million per year from his contract with McDonald's, Bragg's team wrote.

"If companies are investing that much," Bragg said, "I think it's safe to assume there's a reason."


Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Star Athletes Often Endorse Junk Food, Study Says

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Professional athletes may be known for their fitness, but the foods they endorse are usually less than healthy, a new study finds.

The study found that food and beverages promoted by the likes of Peyton Manning and Serena Williams are most often high in calories and devoid of nutrients. Of 62 food products athletes endorsed in 2010, 79 percent fell into the junk food category. And nearly all athlete-promoted beverages got 100 percent of their calories from sugar.

Experts said the findings, reported online Oct. 7 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, are not startling.

But they are concerning, in part because athletes are paragons of fitness, said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, in Boston.

"There's an implicit message that the athletes actually use these products, and that (the products) are healthy," said Rich, who did not work on the study.

Linking an athlete to a food or drink "could lend it a health halo," agreed Marie Bragg, the lead researcher on the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The finding that athletes endorse nutritionally suspect foods is no surprise, according to Bragg. "I think everyone has the sense that this is what's happening, just based on what we see," she said.

But, she added, this study actually examined the nutritional content of athlete-endorsed foods, and looked at the marketing reach of those ads.

"You see them everywhere -- TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet," Bragg said. And based on Nielsen data, her team found, teenagers see those TV ads more often than adults do.

That's troubling, Bragg said, because teenagers often idolize sports stars.

And, Rich added, "kids are much more likely to see TV ads than to read nutrition labels on products."

For the study, Bragg's team looked at data on athlete endorsements during 2010. Of 512 brands hawked by 100 athletes, 24 percent were for food and beverages -- including McDonald's, Burger King, Oreos, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Red Bull.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat (National Basketball Association), Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (National Football League) and tennis star Serena Williams were the "highest contributors to the marketing of unhealthy foods," Bragg's team reported.

Perhaps not surprisingly, athletes most commonly promoted sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. But the researchers considered any drink that gets 100 percent of its calories from sugar as unhealthy -- and sports beverages fall into that category.

"Sports drinks are basically soda," Rich said. But consumers, particularly kids, may view them as health foods, he noted.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the industry, said its members have been careful to avoid targeting young children.

"This study, in fact, reaffirms that children younger than 12 are not the age group primarily viewing food- and beverage-related advertisements that include professional athletes," the group said in a statement. "Our industry offers consumers a variety of choices to help make informed decisions and we respect parents' roles as the primary decision makers in choosing what their children consume."

Rich agreed, saying parents need to be savvy consumers and teach their kids to do the same. He suggested that when an athlete endorsement pops up on your TV screen, talk to your kids about it. "Let them know, just because Peyton Manning is sitting by a jug of Gatorade, that doesn't mean Gatorade made him what he is today," Rich said.

Bragg agreed, but "just being aware isn't enough," she added.

"Ideally, athletes would stop promoting unhealthy foods," Bragg said. And if parents are really concerned, she noted, they could "find ways to be vocal about it" -- such as supporting nutrition advocacy groups.

What this study cannot say is whether kids, or adults, actually eat more junk food because of athletes' endorsements. Both Rich and Bragg pointed to the millions of dollars that companies are willing to pay athletes: NBA star Kobe Bryant earned an estimated $12 million per year from his contract with McDonald's, Bragg's team wrote.

"If companies are investing that much," Bragg said, "I think it's safe to assume there's a reason."


Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Star Athletes Often Endorse Junk Food, Study Says

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Professional athletes may be known for their fitness, but the foods they endorse are usually less than healthy, a new study finds.

The study found that food and beverages promoted by the likes of Peyton Manning and Serena Williams are most often high in calories and devoid of nutrients. Of 62 food products athletes endorsed in 2010, 79 percent fell into the junk food category. And nearly all athlete-promoted beverages got 100 percent of their calories from sugar.

Experts said the findings, reported online Oct. 7 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, are not startling.

But they are concerning, in part because athletes are paragons of fitness, said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, in Boston.

"There's an implicit message that the athletes actually use these products, and that (the products) are healthy," said Rich, who did not work on the study.

Linking an athlete to a food or drink "could lend it a health halo," agreed Marie Bragg, the lead researcher on the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The finding that athletes endorse nutritionally suspect foods is no surprise, according to Bragg. "I think everyone has the sense that this is what's happening, just based on what we see," she said.

But, she added, this study actually examined the nutritional content of athlete-endorsed foods, and looked at the marketing reach of those ads.

"You see them everywhere -- TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet," Bragg said. And based on Nielsen data, her team found, teenagers see those TV ads more often than adults do.

That's troubling, Bragg said, because teenagers often idolize sports stars.

And, Rich added, "kids are much more likely to see TV ads than to read nutrition labels on products."

For the study, Bragg's team looked at data on athlete endorsements during 2010. Of 512 brands hawked by 100 athletes, 24 percent were for food and beverages -- including McDonald's, Burger King, Oreos, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Red Bull.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat (National Basketball Association), Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (National Football League) and tennis star Serena Williams were the "highest contributors to the marketing of unhealthy foods," Bragg's team reported.

Perhaps not surprisingly, athletes most commonly promoted sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. But the researchers considered any drink that gets 100 percent of its calories from sugar as unhealthy -- and sports beverages fall into that category.

"Sports drinks are basically soda," Rich said. But consumers, particularly kids, may view them as health foods, he noted.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the industry, said its members have been careful to avoid targeting young children.

"This study, in fact, reaffirms that children younger than 12 are not the age group primarily viewing food- and beverage-related advertisements that include professional athletes," the group said in a statement. "Our industry offers consumers a variety of choices to help make informed decisions and we respect parents' roles as the primary decision makers in choosing what their children consume."

Rich agreed, saying parents need to be savvy consumers and teach their kids to do the same. He suggested that when an athlete endorsement pops up on your TV screen, talk to your kids about it. "Let them know, just because Peyton Manning is sitting by a jug of Gatorade, that doesn't mean Gatorade made him what he is today," Rich said.

Bragg agreed, but "just being aware isn't enough," she added.

"Ideally, athletes would stop promoting unhealthy foods," Bragg said. And if parents are really concerned, she noted, they could "find ways to be vocal about it" -- such as supporting nutrition advocacy groups.

What this study cannot say is whether kids, or adults, actually eat more junk food because of athletes' endorsements. Both Rich and Bragg pointed to the millions of dollars that companies are willing to pay athletes: NBA star Kobe Bryant earned an estimated $12 million per year from his contract with McDonald's, Bragg's team wrote.

"If companies are investing that much," Bragg said, "I think it's safe to assume there's a reason."


Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Star Athletes Often Endorse Junk Food, Study Says

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Professional athletes may be known for their fitness, but the foods they endorse are usually less than healthy, a new study finds.

The study found that food and beverages promoted by the likes of Peyton Manning and Serena Williams are most often high in calories and devoid of nutrients. Of 62 food products athletes endorsed in 2010, 79 percent fell into the junk food category. And nearly all athlete-promoted beverages got 100 percent of their calories from sugar.

Experts said the findings, reported online Oct. 7 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics, are not startling.

But they are concerning, in part because athletes are paragons of fitness, said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, in Boston.

"There's an implicit message that the athletes actually use these products, and that (the products) are healthy," said Rich, who did not work on the study.

Linking an athlete to a food or drink "could lend it a health halo," agreed Marie Bragg, the lead researcher on the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The finding that athletes endorse nutritionally suspect foods is no surprise, according to Bragg. "I think everyone has the sense that this is what's happening, just based on what we see," she said.

But, she added, this study actually examined the nutritional content of athlete-endorsed foods, and looked at the marketing reach of those ads.

"You see them everywhere -- TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet," Bragg said. And based on Nielsen data, her team found, teenagers see those TV ads more often than adults do.

That's troubling, Bragg said, because teenagers often idolize sports stars.

And, Rich added, "kids are much more likely to see TV ads than to read nutrition labels on products."

For the study, Bragg's team looked at data on athlete endorsements during 2010. Of 512 brands hawked by 100 athletes, 24 percent were for food and beverages -- including McDonald's, Burger King, Oreos, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Red Bull.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat (National Basketball Association), Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (National Football League) and tennis star Serena Williams were the "highest contributors to the marketing of unhealthy foods," Bragg's team reported.

Perhaps not surprisingly, athletes most commonly promoted sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. But the researchers considered any drink that gets 100 percent of its calories from sugar as unhealthy -- and sports beverages fall into that category.

"Sports drinks are basically soda," Rich said. But consumers, particularly kids, may view them as health foods, he noted.

The American Beverage Association, which represents the industry, said its members have been careful to avoid targeting young children.

"This study, in fact, reaffirms that children younger than 12 are not the age group primarily viewing food- and beverage-related advertisements that include professional athletes," the group said in a statement. "Our industry offers consumers a variety of choices to help make informed decisions and we respect parents' roles as the primary decision makers in choosing what their children consume."

Rich agreed, saying parents need to be savvy consumers and teach their kids to do the same. He suggested that when an athlete endorsement pops up on your TV screen, talk to your kids about it. "Let them know, just because Peyton Manning is sitting by a jug of Gatorade, that doesn't mean Gatorade made him what he is today," Rich said.

Bragg agreed, but "just being aware isn't enough," she added.

"Ideally, athletes would stop promoting unhealthy foods," Bragg said. And if parents are really concerned, she noted, they could "find ways to be vocal about it" -- such as supporting nutrition advocacy groups.

What this study cannot say is whether kids, or adults, actually eat more junk food because of athletes' endorsements. Both Rich and Bragg pointed to the millions of dollars that companies are willing to pay athletes: NBA star Kobe Bryant earned an estimated $12 million per year from his contract with McDonald's, Bragg's team wrote.

"If companies are investing that much," Bragg said, "I think it's safe to assume there's a reason."


Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



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