Last December, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, Stephen Curry, made an impressive move. But it wasn’t a dramatic three-pointer on the basketball court. Curry signed a three-year endorsement deal with Brita, the water filtration system, instead of Coke or Pepsi.
"Drinking water is essential to a healthy lifestyle," Curry said in his statement. “Water is my drink. I like that Brita makes tap water taste good, so you don't need to spend money or waste plastic with bottled water."
Curry’s deal with Brita, which aligns with his team’s decision this month to stop drinking soda, represents an important step in the movement to help kids eat and drink healthy products. As major public figures, celebrities like Curry can use their endorsements to shape youth behavior and promote healthy habits.
Unfortunately, celebrity endorsements often work against health. Brands ask celebrities and professional athletes to be the face of their potato chips or sugary drinks, a tactic that encourages young people to buy that brand so they can “be like their role models.” One study of athlete-endorsed products found sports beverages, soft drinks, and fast food made up the majority of food and beverage endorsements. Ninety-three percent of the endorsed beverages received 100 percent of their calories from sugar.
The study concluded that adolescents ages 12 to 17 saw the most TV advertisements for athlete-endorsed drinks and foods. Today, one in three teens is either overweight or obese, and one study found 63 percent of high school students report consuming at least one sugary drink every day.
The teen years are a critical developmental period, during which many adolescents establish consumer and eating behaviors that last a lifetime. Marketing for sugary drinks is pervasive, and profoundly affects youth preferences and purchases. But by endorsing healthy products – or refusing to support unhealthy ones – celebrities and professional athletes can use their fame to encourage an entire generation of young people to lead healthier lives.
When public icons choose the healthy option, they inspire kids of all ages to choose it, too. Curry’s decision to back Brita sends a powerful message to youth across the country: If you want to dribble and shoot like Steph Curry, your beverage of choice should be water.