International Development News
Development News Edition

Sports programs often endorse junk food, suggest a US study

Bragg, a researcher at New York University, and colleagues focused on the ten sports organizations with the most viewers under 18 years old, including professional leagues for football, baseball, soccer, hockey, golf, soccer, mixed martial arts and car racing as well as college basketball and amateur baseball.


Sports programs often endorse junk food, suggest a US study
The National Football League had the most food and beverage sponsors, with a total of 10, followed by the National Hockey League and Little League, with seven apiece.(Image credit: Reuters)

Three in four food advertisements and half of the drink promotions during major US sports programs peddle high-calorie, sugary products, a new study suggests.

"There is an inherent message in sports about the importance of physical fitness and health, and diet is a huge part of fitness and health," lead study author Marie Bragg said by email. "Having highly visible sports organizations serve as a vehicle for promoting junk food to children sends a mixed message that is incompatible with maintaining a healthy diet."

Bragg, a researcher at New York University, and colleagues focused on the ten sports organizations with the most viewers under 18 years old, including professional leagues for football, baseball, soccer, hockey, golf, soccer, mixed martial arts and car racing as well as college basketball and amateur baseball.

Researchers then identified advertisements or sponsorships promoting food or non-alcoholic beverages on television, YouTube, and sports organizations websites from 2006 to 2016.

Overall, food and non-alcoholic drinks accounted for 19 percent of sponsors, second only to auto industry sponsors, researchers report in Pediatrics.

The National Football League had the most food and beverage sponsors, with a total of 10, followed by the National Hockey League and Little League, with seven apiece.

When researchers rated the nutritional content of these products, they found 76 percent of foods were unhealthy and 52 percent of drinks were sodas or other beverages sweetened with sugar.

"I think we saw so many sodas appearing in sponsorship ads because bottled water does not have profit margins as high as sugary drinks, and consumers aren't as loyal to a specific water brand as they are to their favourite soda brand," Bragg said. "People know they are a `Coke' or a `Pepsi' person, but often don't feel the same way about water brands."

The proportion of US children who are overweight and obese has been steadily climbing for years. As of 2016, about 35 percent of children were overweight and another 26 percent were obese, a recent study found.

While there are many reasons for this – including too much screen time and not enough exercise – poor eating and drinking habits play a big role.

Even when soda and junk food advertisements don't directly target children, kids are more easily swayed to crave products than adult viewers, researchers say.

"Children who view advertisements for highly palatable foods such as chips or candy as part of TV shows or within video games will eat more snack foods, even if they already had a meal," said Jennifer Emond, a researcher at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College in Lebanon, New Hampshire, who wasn't involved in the study.

"We call this cued eating," Emond said by email. "We see this in children as young as preschool-age."

One limitation of the study is that researchers didn't look separately at sponsorship appearances within games, on the sidelines, or brands mentioned by announcers during televised games, the authors note. Another drawback is that researchers weren't able to distinguish between unique viewers and repeat viewers on YouTube.

Still, the results suggest that parents need to realize that children who sit down to watch sports are seeing much more than just a game, said Dr Megan Pesch, a researcher at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.

"Children are not always able to detect what is an advertisement versus what is not," Pesch, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email. "Parents can explain, in simple terms, to their children that the athlete is paid by the company to promote the products, and what the marketers are trying to do, namely making money."

Putting out reasonable portions of healthy snacks during the game may also help.

"Parents can also use this an opportunity to talk to their children about the importance of eating unhealthy foods in moderation, focusing on the importance of eating mostly healthy foods with the occasional `fun' food," Pesch added.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION/BLOG/INTERVIEW

How music can help expectant mothers during pregnancy

Music provides pleasant ambience for all but its more important for expectant mothers as besides ensuring pleasant environment for them it also directly and indirectly influences the unborn babies. There are various scientific findings to c...

EdTech: A technical approach to flexible and cost-effective education

Its hight time for the world to go for innovative approaches like e-learning over traditional learning methods that need physical infrastructure, long-term planning, and huge investment. ...

Our school campaigns are our strongest ally: Joaquin Antuna, founder of Peace and Cooperation

Joaquin Antuna is the founder of Peace and Cooperation, a Spanish NGO which was nominated as peace messenger by the United Nations in 1986. Antuna is of very firm opinion that in order to have an incisive impact on the community we live in,...

'No escape from telephones', this 1953 prediction actually comes true

In 1953, a telephone company chief predicted that therell be no escape from telephones in the future....

Videos

Latest News

EXPLAINER-U.S. legislation on Hong Kong: what does it mean?

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to back protesters in Hong Kong and send a warning to China about human rights, sending two bills to the White House where President Donald Trump is expected to sign them into law. Ma...

Antetokounmpo's double-double helps Bucks beat Hawks

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points and 11 rebounds, pacing the Milwaukee Bucks to a 135-127 win over the host Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. It was the ninth time that Antetokounmpo has had 30 points and 10 rebounds in a game this season, top...

Robinson's career night lifts Heat past Cavaliers

Duncan Robinson scored a career-high 29 points -- making seven 3-pointers in a decisive second quarter -- as the host Miami Heat routed the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-100 on Wednesday night. Rookie guard Tyler Herro added 22 points as the Heat...

All zeros: When no batsman of a team scored a run

In a rare instance, no batsman of a team was able to score any run in a cricket match and the team lost by a massive 754 runs in an U-16 Harris Shield game here. The game was played between Swami Vivekanand School and Childrens Welfare Cent...

Give Feedback