Athletes endorse food and drink products. So what?

By ACSH Staff — Oct 07, 2013
In case you re wondering, superstar athletes like LeBron James and Peyton Manning don t seem to be in the know about the nutritional value of the foods they re promoting.

sport silhouettes At least, that s what one can surmise from a recent article published in the journal Pediatrics.

Led by Marie Bragg, researchers from the Rudd center at Yale University examined the product endorsements of 100 different top athletes. About 28 percent involved sporting goods/apparel, followed closely (about 24 percent) by food and beverages. Looking at this latter category, they found that 79 percent of the 62 food products endorsed were energy-dense and nutrient-poor, and that 93 percent of the endorsed beverages obtained all their calories from sugar.

The authors concluded, obviously, that youth are exposed to professional athlete endorsements of food products that are energy-dense and nutrient poor.

The motivation for athletes to endorse various products, including foods and beverages, is financial of course. These athletes are improving their incomes with endorsements, and the food nannies are hot on their trails, accusing them of contributing to all sorts of dietary ills.

But why would one expect a professional athlete to be knowledgeable about nutrition? With the thousands of calories they expend in practice and games, they can likely consume whatever they want as long as they stick to their prescribed dietary training schedules that are probably set up by professional dietitians.

ACSH s Ariel Savransky who holds a masters in food policy and nutrition, weighed in on the issue It is no surprise that proverbial food critics are unhappy with such endorsements. Their careers depend on this. But we disagree with the good-food, bad-food argument. There is nothing wrong with having pizza or soda provided that it is done in moderation. Obesity comes from eating too many calories not from any single food in particular.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom comments, So, Kevin Durant and Dwayne Wade made a commercial for Gatorade. Terrible! I can hardly think of a bad enough punishment for such a sin. As if it s so terrible to drink a bottle of the stuff when you re playing 3 sets of tennis in July. Perhaps the folks at Rudd need a little history refresher: 1)The Soviet Union is gone, 2) Even they didn t ban Gatorade.

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