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What do you think when you see Serena Williams, LeBron James, or another professional athlete on TV or in advertisements? You probably think these elite individuals are the epitome of healthful livingthey surely eat right, and they are obviously in top physical shape.
So it's ironic that these same athletes make money endorsing unhealthy products, from McDonalds to Oreos to Coke. Perhaps the most insidious product celebrity athletes endorse, however, is sports drinks.
Sports drinks, like Gatorade and Powerade, are designed for hardcore athleticsmore than an hour's worth of physical activity. They are filled with electrolytes that are lost during heavy exercise, like potassium and sodium. However, they are also loaded with sugar.
And the sales of these beverages have been rising. In essence, people have been turning away from sugary sodas because they're unhealthyinstead picking up sports drinks, thinking they're healthier. And while sports drinks are less calorie-laden than traditional sodas, they are still packed with sugars.
With celebrity athlete endorsements of sports drinks, this illusion of healthfulness is likely to continue. And children and teens are highly vulnerable to it because they are most likely to see these ads, according to a 2010 study.
This needs to end. People have gone to great lengths to prevent childhood obesity by eliminating, or moderating, traditional sodas; all of that progress could go out the window if these marketing tactics go unchecked.
Sign below to tell the Federal Trade Commission that professional athletes should no longer be able to endorse sugary sports drinks!
Dear Federal Trade Commission,
Thanks in part to public education initiatives, sugary sodas, a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic, have dropped in sales. People are realizing they are unhealthy and cutting, if not eliminating, their consumption of these products.
However, another beverage threatens American health: sports drinks. And professional athlete endorsements inflate this threat, as they are role models for healthy living.
While sports drinks may be appropriate for some extreme athletes, marketing often reaches those who don't need or could even suffer from the product: children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children rarely, if ever need sports drinks to rehydrate and restore electrolytes during exercise, especially since these sports drinks contain such a high sugar and calorie content.
However, many consumers believe sports drinks are a healthy beverage option, perhaps partly due to professional athlete endorsement. This idea is an illusion, and we must bring it to an end.
Therefore, we ask that you outlaw the use of celebrity athlete endorsements for sports drinks. The public, especially children, should not be receiving mixed messages from healthy role models.