It is a common sight to see the face of a famous pop star promoting a product, especially foods and drinks aimed and children and adolescents. However a new study by NYU Langone Medical Center has found that a majority of the food and drink products endorsed by celebrities are unhealthy, with this type of advertising contributing to the worrying rise in childhood and teen obesity according to researchers.
In what is believed to be the first study to look at the healthiness of the food and drinks marketed by music stars using a strict nutritional analysis, the team reviewed dozens of adverts including television, magazine, and radio ads between 2000 and 2014.
The popularity of the music stars and their marketing appeal was identified by using Billboard Magazine's "Hot 100" song charts from 2013 and 2014 and by reviewing winners of the Teen Choice Award winners.
The team also looked at the number of YouTube video views associated with the celebrities' food and nonalcoholic beverage brand endorsements.
The data showed that 65 of the 163 identified pop stars were associated with 57 different food and beverage brands, the second-largest endorsement category after consumer goods.
The researched then assessed the nutritional value of the food products, finding that 21 out of 26 food products (81 percent) were considered "nutrient poor."
The nutritional value of the endorsed drinks was determined by looking at calories from added sugar, with the team finding that of the 69 beverages endorsed, 49 (71 percent) were sweetened with added sugar.
Full-calorie soft drinks were the most commonly endorsed beverage in the category, with water-related endorsements appeared only three times.
None of the pop stars looked at in the study endorsed fruits, vegetables, or whole grains, with just one endorsing a natural, healthy food -- pistachios.
Previous research has also found food and beverage marketing to be a significant contributor to childhood obesity, with lead author Marie Bragg commenting that "Research has already shown that food advertising leads to overeating, and the food industry spends $1.8 billion per year marketing to youth alone."
"Because of our nation's childhood and teenage obesity public health crises, it is important to raise awareness about how companies are using celebrities popular with these audiences to market their unhealthy products," she added.
The team also believe that celebrities should be using their influence to promote and encourage healthy food options, with one of the study's co-authors, Alysa N. Miller, adding that, "The popularity of music celebrities among adolescents makes them uniquely poised to serve as positive role models. Celebrities should be aware that their endorsements could exacerbate society's struggle with obesity -- and they should endorse healthy products instead."
The findings can be found online published in the journal Pediatrics.
© AFP/Relaxnews 2021