How Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood, and Beyonce Are Asking You to Gain Weight

Food and drink endorsements by celebrities aren't always healthy. Here are three celebrities and their unhealthy diet endorsements, and healthier, fat-burning alternatives.

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We admire celebrities. We trust them. We feel like we know them. We even take their word when they endorse a product. But the reality is that many product endorsements are far from healthy. Some are downright dangerous. Sometimes, even the food they tell us to eat is bad for our health.

What's the Psychology Behind Celebrity Endorsements?

The power of the celebrity endorsement lies in our admiration of and trust for famous actors, musicians and athletes. And while realistically, many celebs don't actually eat, drink, use or wear the products they're pushing, it's still a very powerful subconscious marketing tool. Our admiration of those celebrities drives us to be more like them through emulation.

What's more, one Dutch study revealed that we tend to transfer our positive feelings toward a particular celebrity toward the product that they're endorsing. As a result, your buying decision becomes less about logic and more about emotion. According to the study, advertisements featuring a celebrity activated the emotional centers in the brain, whereas the same ads with a random model didn't have the same effect.

Unfortunately, these psychological processes make us more likely to buy foods and other unhealthy or downright harmful products endorsed by our favorite celebrities. In terms of social responsibility and ethics, one researcher grouped these endorsements in the same category as “old school tobacco marketing.”

According to one study, unhealthy products account for “nearly all” of the celebrity endorsements you see.

What's worse? When it comes to eating what your Hollywood idols are touting, following their food and drink endorsements could lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart attacks.

Here are a few fat-gaining examples:

Carrie Underwood Endorses Hershey's and Vitamin Water

Publicly, Carrie Underwood promotes a fit, healthy image. In fact, she's been featured on the cover of Shape Magazine and she says she tours with a personal trainer and eats tons of veggies.

So it's a bit disconcerting to realize that Carrie Underwood has been paid to endorse Hershey chocolate bars and Vitamin Water – two products that few would categorize as “healthy.”

Hershey's chocolate bars may be a nice treat on occasion, but a quick glance at the nutrition label will reveal high quantities of sugar, lots of calories and fat and minimal nutritional benefits in terms of vitamins and minerals.

Chocolate does offer some health benefits, but those benefits are extremely minimal in milk chocolate.

Healthy alternative: with a high cacao content (ideally, 65 percent or greater) is the better option because it contains more cocoa and other nutritional elements, like flavonoids and antioxidants. These eliminate disease-causing toxins in your body. In fact, studies show eating dark chocolate protects your heart and even helps you lose weight.

Dark chocolate's nutritious ingredients are diluted dramatically in milk chocolate. But really, Hershey bars are perhaps the most benign item on our list of unhealthy celeb endorsements!

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Let's talk about Vitamin Water. Vitamin Water is infused with vitamins, but you won't get much benefit from those nutrients since you're consuming loads of sugar and extra calories. In fact, even the Vitamin Water labeling is deceptive because a bottle contains 2.5 servings! So take the calories and sugar content listed on the label and multiply by 2.5 to get the real figures (which do vary depending on the flavor). On average, Vitamin Water contains 13 grams of sugar per serving. That means you're drinking 32.5 grams of sugar and 125 calories per bottle. For perspective, a can of Coca-Cola Classic has about 39 grams of sugar and 140 calories.

Vitamin Water isn't looking so healthy now, is it?

Healthy alternative:You're better off opting for a fruit smoothie, fruit-infused water or plain old vitamin supplements if you're in search of something nutritious. Birch water, coconut water, and maple water all have more nutrients than Vitamin Water with less sugar and calories.

Justin Timberlake Endorses McDonald's

Justin Timberlake endorsed McDonald's Restaurant in what, at the time, was one of the most lucrative deals of its kind. As part of the whopping $6 million dollar deal, Timberlake appeared in five advertisements which were aired in 12 languages in more than 100 nations over the course of five years.

Notably, in an interview with the British edition of GQ, Timberlake said he regretted the endorsement, which was viewed by many as beyond disingenuous. Does anyone really believe that a man who's known for his high-energy dance moves and two-hour long concerts actually eats at McDonald's? And remember, this ad campaign occurred before McDonald's made a move toward including healthier options, like fruit.

While we'd love to provide you with a healthier alternative to McDonald's, there just isn't one. Unfortunately, the fast food industry hasn't found a way to be truly healthy. Their best attempt has been to slightly reduce portion sizes and offer healthier menu items. But the core of the fast food industry's offerings just aren't beneficial to your health. So aside from the rare indulgence, fast food is probably one that's best left off the menu.

Beyonce Endorses Pepsi

In 2012, Beyonce Knowles secured a whopping $50 million deal with Pepsi. The multi-year deal includes commercials, print ads and more. Beyonce had the audacity to classify the endorsement as a creative partnership. But let's recognize it for what it is: a business decision to promote a product that has been blamed for playing a major role in the nation'sobesity epidemic.

Do we really need to convince you that Pepsi is the antithesis of what's considered healthy? Well, in case you're the skeptical type, here are a few figures. A 12-ounce bottle of Pepsi is packed with sugar and high fructose corn syrup, resulting in 150 calories and 41 grams of sugar.

Oh, but it gets better! One study revealed that Pepsi drinkers saw a whopping 75 percent greater increase in waist circumference over ten years compared to those who avoided Pepsi products. In lab rats, Pepsi's high phosphate levels resulted in premature death, with the rats dying an average of five weeks sooner than their counterparts.

Researchers have also discovered that Pepsi's caramel coloring poses a cancer threat when consumed at a rate of 15 micrograms per day. But some varieties of Pepsi contain a whopping 199 micrograms in just 20 ounces.

Healthy alternative: The more research you do, the more disturbing information you'll learn when it comes to Pepsi. So if you're seeking something sweet, try some fruit-infused water, a fruit smoothie or plain old water. You can also drink grape juice – it's sweet like soda, but protects you from cancer, heart disease, and reverses aging.

Celebrities don't stay fit and pretty by eating the junk food they're endorsing. Don't associate their glittery aura and their starry eyes with the lardy, weight-gaining food they want you to eat.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Updated January 2, 2017

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