Pro-snack: Are athletes sending the wrong message to kids?
Professional athletes are blessed and burdened with celebrity status, which means they also act as role models. That kind of spotlight attracts big corporations who want to use a popular athlete’s name, face, and voice to market products to a bigger audience.
LeBron James, Peyton Manning, and Serena Williams are media superstars in their respective sports, and they have the corporate endorsements to prove it. Children with dreams of becoming professional athletes look up to these superstar athletes and their teams. When a professional athlete decides to become the face of a food and beverage company, they need to realize that adults are not the only target demographic for these companies.
Manning has contracts with Papa John’s, Oreo, and Gatorade. James holds a multi-million dollar contract with McDonald’s. James also endorses Sprite and will be introducing a LeBron Mix soda this year.
According to research, children between the ages of 12 and 17 are the demographic most exposed to soft drinks, sports drinks, and fast food advertising. The results of this group being exposed to unhealthy food ads was best represented in a 2013 study by World Health Organization. They concluded that 80 percent of US teens are in danger of developing heart disease as a result of a high sugar, salt, and fat diets.
With fit athletes representing salty, greasy foods and sugar-filled drinks, the public that idealizes these athletes is being somewhat misled. Food and beverage companies offer millions of dollars to professional athletes for their endorsements, so the temptations for athletes are high. Who wouldn’t take an offer to stand in front of a camera and say that Sprite tastes great for millions of dollars?
America’s youth is paying the price of corporate marketing with their health. Child obesity is a problem in this country; we need to focus on what our children watch. Television takes the blame when it comes to violent programming or censorship laws. Perhaps, we need to start researching a link between what our children see on television and their eating habits.
What do you think? Should professional athletes be allowed to endorse unhealthy foods? Tell us your opinion, or find me on Twitter @jesusgreaser to chat about it.