Would American teens be slimmer if Beyonce or One Direction were seen eating kale and quinoa?
Researchers are claiming music stars that teens idolize may be adding to the country’s obesity epidemic through their endorsement of fatty fast food, snacks and soda.
The study showed that the 20 top teen-music heartthrobs have been in TV ads or promos for unhealthy products. For the selection process, they chose from a group of pop stars who had been on Teen Choice Award shows, and who had hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts in 2013 and 2014. The ad’s dates ranged from 2000 to 2014.
Through 107 food and drink endorsements from celebs, only a handful were for anything considered nutritious. Just one endorsement was labeled as a “natural whole-food product” by the authors of the study. That belonged to one-hit wonder South Korean pop star Psy, and his “crackin’ gangnam-style” TV ad for Wonderful pistachios.
About 80 per cent of celebrity-endorsed ads were for high-calorie foods, or fast-food restaurant chains. The majority of drink ads were for sugary sodas.
The list included Katy Perry (Pepsi and Popchips), Justin Timberlake (Chili’s, McDonald’s and Pepsi), and will.i.am (Coca-Cola, Doritos, Dr. Pepper and Pepsi).
Ads are supposed to influence behaviour, and these star-studded ads could be contributing to obesity rates. Government stats revealed that roughly 20 per cent of U.S. teens are obese, and even more are overweight.
“Celebrities should leverage their influence to promote more healthful messages,” the researchers offered.
Believing teens would only eat healthy foods if they were pushed by stars is unrealistic, as is the idea that celebs will stop endorsing products for fat pay checks. Perhaps the answer could be found through a balance of moderation, and additional celebrity-led healthy food campaigns.