The use of sports references in marketing of food and beverage products in supermarkets.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Food marketing has been identified as a significant driver of the childhood obesity epidemic. The purpose of the present study was to (i) conduct a content analysis of the types of sports references that appear on supermarket food and beverage products and (ii) assess each product's nutritional and marketing profile.


This was a descriptive study. Every product featuring sports references on the packaging was purchased in two major supermarkets during 2010. A content analysis was conducted and nutritional evaluations were made based on the Nutrient Profile Model, a validated nutrition model. Marketing data were obtained from The Nielsen Company.


Two major supermarkets in Connecticut, USA.


Food and beverage products (n 102) were selected from two supermarkets.


The 102 products (fifty-three foods and forty-nine beverages) had sports references as part of their packaging: 72·5 % featured a character exercising, 42·2 % were endorsed by a professional sports entity and 34·0 % were child-targeted. The median nutrition score for food products was 36 (1 = unhealthiest and 100 = healthiest; scores of ≥63 are considered healthy according to this model). More than two-thirds of beverages (69·4 %) were 100 % sugar-sweetened. Children saw significantly more commercials for these products than adults.


Companies place sports figures on food and beverage products that are child-targeted and unhealthy.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bragg, MA; Liu, PJ; Roberto, CA; Sarda, V; Harris, JL; Brownell, KD

Published Date

  • April 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 16 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 738 - 742

PubMed ID

  • 22874497

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1475-2727

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1368-9800

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/s1368980012003163


  • eng