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Booze Advertisers Exploit Apathetic Athletes

91% of elite athletes don't personally use the alcohol and junk food products they endorse.

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By Bryan Le

04/10/12

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Most celebrity endorsers never touch the stuff they sell—sports stars included, apparently. The University of Syndey found that of 2000 elite athletes, 91% would not actually support the use of the junk food and alcohol they publicly endorse. The Aussie survey revealed older professional male athletes were most likely to support advertising of unhealthy products while younger amateur female athletes were much less inclined—unfortunate, because other research has shown that superstar athletes have a powerful influence on children, who regularly request the products famous athletes push. Athletes continue hawking the products they would never personally use because of the big ad bucks it brings in. “The perceived need for the sporting industry to be able to continue to earn money from food and alcohol advertising and sponsorship might explain this passive tolerance,” says lead researcher Dr Anne Grunseit. She points out that if athletes could be paid as well to speak out against—rather than endorsing—unhealthy products, their star power could be sourced for more beneficial ends. “In terms of public policy, as with tobacco, the regulation of unhealthy sponsorship or the use of counter-marketing (for example quitting smoking advertisements) to reduce demand for a particular product could be effective,” Grunseit says. “An obvious counter-marketing message would be that some of these products are likely to undermine your sports performance.”

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