Music Is Making Teens Crave Junk Food
In the past, fast-food marketing on T.V. and in popular media have been accused of contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic in America with their pro-fast food messages. But, it turns out Beyonce and Justin Timberlake could be just as guilty in promoting less healthy choices.
A new study, conducted by NYU Langone Medical Center, looked at the correlation between a singer or group's popularity with teens and the kinds of foods and drinks they endorse. The team analyzed dozens of advertisements by high-profile musicians over a 14-year period. When it came to celebrity endorsements, the study determined that 80 percent of the foods advertised by superstars were nutrient-poor, while 79 percent of beverages were sugary drinks. Unsurprisingly, not a single endorsement was for vegetables, fruits, or whole grains.
Food and drink companies spend $2 billion a year on youth-targeted ads, and children and teens view between 4,700-5,900 ads a year on average, according to the study authors.
And, of course, the world's biggest music stars have worked with big brands to promote these unhealthy foods and beverages in the past, CNN reports. Maroon 5's Adam Levine has written songs for Coca-Cola and Snapple, Beyonce has repped Pepsi, Justin Timberlake recorded his very own "I'm Lovin' It" jingle for McDonald's, and Will.i.am has done advertisements for Doritos, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi.
"The popularity of music celebrities among adolescents makes them uniquely poised to serve as positive role models," says study co-author Alysa N. Miller. "Celebrities should be aware that their endorsements could exacerbate society's struggle with obesity, and they should endorse healthy products instead."
Lead study author and NYU faculty member Marie Bragg points out that given the millions of dollars brands shell out for these celebrity endorsements, they're well aware of their influence on their young fans, saying: "Food advertising leads to overeating, and the food industry spends $1.8 billion per year marketing to youth alone."