A new study conducted by the University of Liverpool revealed that celebrity endorsements of snack foods encourage children to eat more of that food.
Observing 181 children between the ages of 8 and 11, the study placed two bowls of Walkers potato chips, a British version of Lays, in front of the children and labeled one ‘Walkers’ and one ‘supermarket.’ They were then asked to watch TV footage including advertisements of former football pro Gary Lineker endorsing Walkers, Match of the Day featuring Lineker, and various advertisements for other snack foods and toy products.
What they found was that the children who watched the most advertisements and TV footage of Lineker ate more of the chips from the bowl labeled ‘Walkers’ than from the one labeled ‘supermarket,’ leading them to conclude that celebrities have a powerful impact on a child’s psychology and what they eat.
Dr. Emma Boyland from the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society spoke of how the fact that the footage of Lineker outside of the advertisements caused children to eat more of the endorsed product says a lot about their power of influence.
“This research has consequences for the use of celebrities, and in particular sports stars, in advertising unhealthy or High Fat Salt and Sugar products,” she says, noting that sports celebrities should be promoting healthy foods, not junk food.
Derek Jeter and avocados, anyone?
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce