A recent study quantifies professional athlete endorsements of food and beverages and evaluates the nutritional quality of the products they endorsed products. In particular, the authors note:
- “Professional athletes are in a unique position to use their highly visible status to promote healthy messages to youth, and their role as athletes may lead the public to perceive them as credible sources of knowledge on a healthy lifestyle.” (p. 2)
- “One study also revealed that parents perceive food products as healthier when they are endorsed by a professional athlete and are more likely to purchase those products.” (p. 2)
- “The promotion of energy-dense, nutrient-poor products by some of the world’s most physically fit and well-known athletes is an ironic combination that sends mixed messages about diet and health.” (p. 5)
Generally speaking, is a person under an ethical obligation to only endorse those products he/she actually uses and/or deems safe, healthy or beneficial? More specifically, as perceived symbols of health and fitness, are athletes under an ethical obligation to only endorse products with demonstrable health or nutritional value?