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Don’t Fall for Athlete-Sponsored Endorsements

Don’t Fall for Athlete-Sponsored Endorsements

Children 12-17 are the #1 viewers of athlete-sponsored food commercials. So what are top sports figures selling this impressionable audience? Mostly junk. In 2010, nearly 80% of athlete-endorsed food products were energy-dense and nutrient-poor—and more than 93% of athlete-endorsed beverages got 100% of their calories from added sugar.

If you wonder why people who value physical health above all else would push disease-causing foods to kids—well, the facts speak for themselves.

In 2010, Maria Sharapova raked in millions from her own line of gummies called Sugarpova. Isn’t that swe-e-e-et! Kobe Bryant earned around $12 million endorsing drive-thru burgers. Serena Williams hauled in tens of millions for serving up sweet words for cookies and other nutritional nightmares. But it’s LeBron James who wins the title of Junk-Food-Ad-Man-Extraordinaire (JFAME)! He earned around $45 million for endorsing a whole menu of bad-for-you foods, beverages and chewing gum. (If he really eats this stuff himself, did it hinder his performance enough to delay his winning a championship by a year?)

But luckily, Mom and Dad, you can help kids resist these nutritional bombs. Most importantly, you can become the star who inspires your child by making good nutrition and regular physical activity a part of everyday life. Talk to your children about how “buy this junk” messages aren’t kid-friendly. Explain that an athlete may deserve respect for accomplishing major feats in sports—but that doesn’t mean they have any credibility when it comes to suggesting what you should eat for breakfast. Chew on that!

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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