Study Reveal Popular Musicians may be Contributing to the Obesity Epidemic in the US

obesityA study conducted by a researcher at the New York University published in the June 2016 edition of the journal Pediatrics showed that 20 of the music industry’s teen heartthrobs and best-sellers might be contributing to the continued rise of childhood and teenage obesity in the United States today. These modern-day music icons have been shown to endorse fatty fast food, soda, and other snack items that food policy and obesity researchers at the NYU said might have grossly influenced the unhealthy eating habits of today’s US children and teenagers.

Eight out of ten of the celebrity-endorsed food advertisements and commercials were either labeled high-calorie products or foods coming from big-name fast food restaurants. High-calorie diets coupled with sedentary lifestyle have both been shown to gravely affect the genetic tendencies of certain individuals to become overweight.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity in children was doubled in number for the past thirty years while teenage obesity grew by more than 4 times in the same period. In 2012, 18 percent of all 6-11 year olds were obese. This was more than double in the 1980 figures at only 7 percent. The data for the 12-19 year olds were more appalling; more than 1 out of 5 of them were obese in 2012 compared to only 5 percent in 1980.

The New York University study described the endorsements of Justin Timberlake for McDonald’s, Pepsi, and Chili’s; Katy Perry for Popchips and Pepsi; and Wil.I.Am for Doritos, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper. There is a good sign, though. South Korean pop sensation PSY was singled out for his endorsement of a natural whole-food product by Wonderful Pistachios. The list of celebrities and music icons are just partial, however as the researchers only managed to include 107 food and drink advertisements that were heavily endorsed by celebrities.

The researchers added that advertisements influence behavior. Children and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to celebrity endorsements simply because these children idolize them. Food and nutrition experts as well as obesity management advocates are calling on celebrities to be more sensitive to what they are endorsing. The researchers nevertheless recognize the difficulty of requiring children and teenagers to eat only healthy foods. What they would recommend however, is to achieve moderation and better balance in what is consumed.

It is unknown whether the results of the study will be heeded by these celebrities. One thing is certain though, celebrities need to set good examples to children especially in the fight against the growing epidemic of obesity.



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