Study: Nutrient-poor food marketed to teenagers

Posted at 5:10 PM, Jun 08, 2016

A new study in the Journal 'Pediatrics' shows how nutrient-poor items are marketed to teenagers by using their role models in the music industry.

The study looked at 590 endorsements with 163 celebrities, such as Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Maroon 5.

"Those can be tricky for them to decipher and they are looking to them as a role model," said Jessica Crandall, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist at Denver Wellness and Nutrition. "Kids, on average, are watching 44 hours of screen time per week. That's so much! And, those messages can get kind of crossed."

The study found, among the celebrities promoting food and drinks, 81 percent were Teen Choice Award nominees, proving their popularity with adolescents.

Around 80 percent in the food category pushed energy dense, nutrient-poor items, while 71 percent of non-alcoholic drink commercials promoted sugary beverages.

"I think you talk about, as a family, what are healthy behaviors," said Crandall. "I think you encourage them to consume water or nonfat milk options, and talk about the nutrient benefits they're getting."

Food and drinks make up 18 percent of the celebrity endorsements examined by researchers.

"They may not be getting the full landscape of what someone is doing over their week or month," said Crandall. "So we know that things can be done in moderation, but unfortunately, if it's done in an advertisement, then we don't get that in the snapshot."

The study says food and beverage marketing has been associated with childhood obesity. Fast food was the largest category researchers studied. There were no endorsements for fruits, vegetables or whole grains.