Study: Peyton Manning, LeBron James Among Top Jocks Pitching Junk Food

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson


It's discouraging to see so many star athletes hawking junk food, as described in this important study from the Yale Rudd Center published in the journal Pediatrics. By endorsing these nutritionally poor foods and drinks, people like Peyton Manning, LeBron James, and Serena Williams are doing a great disservice to the country and their fans. It's as if the dollars blind them to the fact that they are role models. Thanks to these endorsements, kids and adults are more likely to associate junk foods with fitness or athleticism.

Of course the opposite is true. Drinking Sprite and eating at McDonald's is not going to make you play basketball like LeBron James any more than smoking cigarettes will make you ride a horse like the Marlboro Man.

I hope this paper inspires some reflection on the part of America's athletes and professional sports leagues, as well as all other celebrities for that matter. Would it be too much to ask of them to confine their endorsements to sports equipment, cell phones, cars, and so on? And to limit their food deals to products that actually promote health—and possibly even better athletic performance?

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at] or Ariana Stone (astone[at]