JUN 07, 2016 2:06 PM PDT

Almost All Celebrity Endorsed Food and Beverages are Unhealthy

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet

Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, and Pitbull are just some of the musicians who endorse food and beverage products - and not one of those products is healthy.

Elias Kardous via Flickr

According to research conducted by the NYU Langone Medical Center, the large majority of food and beverage products marketed by recording artists are unhealthy. Products endorsed mostly include soda, sugary drinks, fast food, and candy. None of the musicians endorsed fruits, vegetables, or whole grains. In fact, just one musician endorsed a natural healthy food – pistachios.

"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," said lead author Marie Bragg, an assistant professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone. "Research has already shown that food advertising leads to overeating, and the food industry spends $1.8 billion per year marketing to youth alone."

The researchers identified the most popular musicians by delving through Billboard Magazine’s “Hot 100” song charts of 2013 and 2014, verifying artists’ popularity and appeal as judged by the Teen Choice Awards, and quantifying YouTube views associated with celebrity food and beverage endorsements. The research included endorsements between 2000 and 2014.

The researchers then assessed the nutritional value of a food product by analyzing the nutritional information using the Nutrient Profile Model. According to this model, 21 out of 26 food products were identified as “nutrient poor.” That’s 81 percent. They assessed beverages by reviewing the calories derived from added sugars. Out of the 69 beverages endorsed, 49 were sweetened by added sugars.

"The popularity of music celebrities among adolescents makes them uniquely poised to serve as positive role models," said co-author Alysa N. Miller, research coordinator in the Department of Population Health. "Celebrities should be aware that their endorsements could exacerbate society's struggle with obesity -- and they should endorse healthy products instead."

The research was published on June 6, 2016, in the journal Pediatrics.

 Sources: NYU Langone Medical Center press release via EurekAlert!, open acess journal study via Pediatrics 

About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
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