1. Among popular celebrities endorsing products, food and beverages were the second most commonly endorsed category after consumer goods.
2. The vast majority of endorsed beverages were sugar-sweetened, while endorsed foods were nutrient poor and energy dense.
Study Rundown: The marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to youth is a significant contributor to childhood obesity. The use of celebrities to endorse products is a long-proven strategy that successfully enhances brand recognition and product desirability. Authors of this study explored the extent of music celebrity endorsements of foods and beverages. As adolescents typically listen to music 2 to 3 hours a day, these artists can have a stronger influence among teens. Using data from the Billboard Top 100 for 2013 and 2014, music celebrities were identified and cross-referenced with product endorsements from 2000 to 2014. Popularity of celebrities was assessed using Teen Choice Award nominations, of which the vast majority of endorsers had at least 1 nomination. Results indicated that food and beverage was the second most commonly endorsed category after consumer goods. Furthermore, almost 3/4 of the endorsed beverages were sugar-sweetened, while the vast majority of foods endorsed were energy-dense and nutrient-poor. This data supports the need for policy that encourages companies to use influential celebrity endorsements for more healthy food and beverage options in an effort to curb rising childhood obesity rates. While this study is cleverly demonstrative of a significant public health concern, it is limited by its observational nature and likely underestimation of celebrity endorsements.
In-Depth [descriptive study]: Data from this study was taken from a list of 163 music celebrities culled from the 2013 and 2014 Billboard Hot 100 chart that ranks songs according to music sales and radio play. Celebrity popularity was assessed using Teen Choice Award nominations from 2000 to 2014. Finally, endorsements associated with identified music celebrities from 2000 to 2014 were catalogued and categorized according to product. Of the 590 endorsements, the largest category was consumer goods (26%) followed by food and beverages (107 endorsements, 18%). Of the 65 celebrities associated with food and beverage endorsements, 81.5% had at least 1 Teen Choice Award nomination, indicating a high level of popularity among adolescents. There were 51 music celebrities associated with 69 beverage references, of which 49 (71%) were for sugar-sweetened beverages. There were no endorsements for fruits, vegetables, or whole grains. Nutritional content of foods and beverages was calculated using the Nutrient Profile Index (NPI) and calories related from added sugar. Of the 26 brands that received NPI scores, only 6 had healthy-range scores. Therefore, 80.8% of endorsed foods were energy dense and nutrient poor by NPI index.
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