The Center for Behavioral Research in Cancer conducted a study hoping to figure out the effects food advertisements had on childhood obesity. According to their results, published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, boys are becoming victims to misleading food advertisements. Boys were 96 percent more likely to choose junk foods over healthy choices if the junk foods claim to include nutrients, like high in calcium or protein. Additionally, the study claimed that if sports celebrities were endorsing these unhealthy options, the boys were 65 percent more likely to choose those.
The study surveyed 1,300 Australian 11 year old boys and girls, but only male sports stars were featured. While male stars had virtually no impact on the choices girls made, girls were still 66 percent more likely to choose unhealthy foods based on deceptive nutrient claims. Nonetheless, sports celebrity advertisements might lead boys to choose products high in calories and low in nutritional value.
These results have appeared to have taken many by surprise. The Center for Behavioral Research in Cancer’s lead author, Helen Dixon pushes for stricter measures being taken to limit these misleading content claims as well as sports star endorsements. With Australian childhood obesity as high as 25 percent, something must be done. “Many parents aren’t aware how unhealthy many of the products endorsed by sports stars are, ” Jane Martin of the coalition said. However, it will be hard to convince brands to stop false advertising. Timothy Gill tells MedicalXpress, “Naivety around the market is something that is still utilized by the industry to encourage product consumption.”