Mic.com's Alex Orlov uses Olympian Simone Biles' Hershey's commercial to shed light on food companies' unfortunate practice of using star athletes to promote bad nutrition. These endorsements are especially problematic for young children, who develop, as BMSG Media Researcher Laura Nixon explains, positive associations with the brand. The ad, Orlov concludes, "definitely doesn't stick the landing when it comes to helping America stay healthy."
Celebrity spokespeople are attractive to food and beverage companies because they help draw young consumers. As BMSG's Andrew Cheyne explained to TIME in 2013, "We can't expect kids to turn off that admiration [for their favorite celebrties] when the same person is selling sugar."
According to a recent NYU study, over two-thirds of non-alcoholic beverages promoted by celebrities contain added sugar. By associating unhealthy products with the celebrities most popular among children and teens, endorsements of sugar sweetened beverages are contributing to the childhood epidemic of obesity, explains BMSG's Laura Nixon. Nearly 13 million children and teens in the U.S. are obese, placing them at elevated risk for diabetes and other nutrition-related diseases.
Berkeley, California's 2014 victory against the soda industry could provide insights for other cities looking to tax soda. Among them, says BMSG's Lori Dorfman, is that community organizing must play a strong role. Also, kids' health should be "the first concern."