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Pro Athletes Peddle Nutrient-Poor Products to Youth

MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents are exposed to the most athlete-endorsed food and beverage commercials, the majority of which promote nutrient-poor products, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in Pediatrics.

Marie A. Bragg, from Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues quantified professional athletes' endorsement of foods and beverages. Bloomberg Businessweek's 2010 Power 100 rankings were used to select the professional athletes. An advertisement database was used to gather endorsement information. The Nutrient Profiling Index assessed the nutritional quality of featured foods, and beverages were evaluated on the basis of the percentage of calories from added sugar.

The researchers found that the 100 athletes were associated with 44 different food and beverage brands. Of the 62 food products in athlete-endorsed advertisements, 79 percent were energy-dense and nutrient-poor. Of the 46 advertised beverages, 93.4 percent had 100 percent of calories from added sugar. The most endorsements for energy-dense, nutrient-poor products were made by Peyton Manning and LeBron James. Television commercials featuring athlete endorsements of food were viewed the most by adolescents.

"Youth are exposed to professional athlete endorsements of food products that are energy-dense and nutrient-poor," the authors write.

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