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Most foods, drinks endorsed by athletes packed with sugar, calories

Most foods and beverages endorsed by athletes packed with sugar and calories

Think all those buff, fit athletes are pitching products that are good for you? Think again. A new study published last Monday in the journal Pediatrics examined food marketing endorsements from the 100 most popular professional athletes and found that the majority of the products they hawked were for sports beverages, soft drinks, and fast food.

LeBron James, Peyton Manning, and Serena Williams had more food and beverage endorsements than any other athletes and were the most likely to be pitching energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods, according to the Yale University study authors. A whopping 93 percent of beverages endorsed by athletes received 100 percent of their calories from added sugars — such as Powerade, Gatorade, and Vitaminwater.

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Previous research suggests that consumers perceive products endorsed by athletes to be more healthful.

“Professional athletes have an important opportunity to promote the public’s health, particularly for youth,” wrote the study authors, “by refusing endorsement contracts that involve promotion of” high-calorie foods and drinks with little nutritional value.

That’s not likely to happen any time soon, but we should be mindful of these research findings when making purchases of foods that rank high in our minds as nutritious. Are we buying that “workout recovery drink” or sports supplement just because we’ve seen it touted by an athlete or celebrity trainer we admire? D.K.

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.
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