Supporting themselves, or selling out?

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful birthday wishes for the Pilot <3 He’s been enjoying reading them throughout the day- I’m excited to celebrate when he’s home from work.

Streamers 

(It was my first time doing streamers… using medical tape to hang them up. Don’t even ask. Liv got a kick out of them, just as I thought she would)

On the eve of his birthday, the Pilot actually walked in the door bearing gifts: our farm box, which he picked up on the way home

Farm box

and a huge box of Donut Shop coffee that the postman kindly left on our doorstep. I’m pretty sure it will be a while before I run out of coffee again ;)

For some reason, I thought I ordered some new things with these week’s farm box, but I was pretty boring. It doesn’t even matter because everything is perfect and extremely fresh, per usual.

In the box of happiness:

-standard kale, carrots and romaine (which I’ll probably order every time. I don’t love carrots plain, but have been juicing a lot lately and also made Liv a carrot apple puree she went crazy over)

-pumpkin (going to roast it, puree and freeze)

-raspberries

-micro mint (for Greek salad)

and the most gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. It’s pretty incredible that my entire box is only around $22, when I’ve paid $6 for one (!!!) heirloom tomato at that one store.

The birthday party is at our house tonight, so last night I prepped some twice-baked potatoes:

Potatoes

(non-dairy in the cake pan, dairy in the roasting dish)

and today, baked his favorite dump cake on my lunch break.

Dump cake

Madre also made an earthquake cake, and we’ll have salad, salmon and steak. It’s going to be quite the feast! I’m on a mission right now to find a pinata for the sake of tradition

NewImage

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In the meantime, I wanted to ask ya about something that’s been on my mind. While I was running on Monday, I listened to a couple of Jillian Michael’s podcasts, and she brought up  the issue of athletes receiving sponsorships from fast food, soda and other not-so-healthy companies. In the podcast, she said it was disappointing to her, but she could also see the need for it, as many athletes spend a lot of money and time training and sponsorships help them make a living from their sport, as they’re unable to work full-time.

It got me thinking, especially because I thought that Jillian was a sellout when her “diet pills” first came out. I felt like she was trying to deceive those who looked towards her to create a long-term healthy lifestyle, and then she was saying “never mind, here’s a quick fix instead!” I’ve since changed my perception of her- I actually like her personality and respect her after listening to her podcasts- but wanted to hear what you thought about all of this.

Do you think athletes promoting unhealthy foods/companies/drinks is a bad example to kids?

As an adult, it has no effect on me because I’ll continue to buy the products I love and won’t eat at a certain restaurant because a popular athlete is promoting it. On the other hand, if I would have seen Oksana Baiul (I’m gonna go ahead and date myself here) cocoa flakes as a kid, I would have wanted them for breakfast every day. 

Do you think athletes should take whatever sponsorships they can get, as it’s helping them to make money from their sport, or should they be more selective about what their promoting?

It’s a matter of ethics to me. I don’t think you should put your face on a product if it’s not something you use on a regular basis, but on the other hand, I haven’t spent my entire life and funds training for a sport with little financial payback. It’s an interesting line they must be walking.

As always, I’m excited to hear your thoughts <3

xoxo

G

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Comments

  1. First of all, happy birthday to the Pilot!

    This is definitely an interesting topic and one that I think doesn’t have a clear right or wrong answer. Like you, I don’t think it quite sends the right message for an athlete to endorse a very unhealthy product. There are kids out there who are looking up to them and I’m sure they don’t unintentionally want to steer anyone towards something that may harm them. I think they should be selective when it comes to endorsements, but not to the point where it will bankrupt them because they’re being too picky. It’s a tough line to walk!

  2. I think it’s one of those things where you have to take professional athletes and celebrities with a grain of salt. Does Apollo Ono really eat at Subway? Does Taylor Swift really use covergirl makeup? Probably not. But they have to make a living and part of that is being a persona. You as a customer just have to know what matters to you and not let yourself be swayed by it. Like you said, I think that while that’s easier for adults to do that is very hard for kids to do.

  3. I feel that if the athlete’s conscience is clear to sell a fast food product, it is their career, they can support themselves however they choose and they can promote whatever they choose, healthy or unhealthy. I would just hope more and more chose to promote health :)

    Honestly, I’d bet there’s a pretty good chance half of them eat the Big Macs they sell anyways.

  4. I agree that endorsments must be taken with a grain of salt. If the athlete chooses to endorse something as a career move, then that is up to them. It is up to households to teach what healthy eating is so that the parents teach the kids FIRST. That way, they know better before seeing all the craziness that’s out there.
    Personally, I would not be too eager to jump onto a fast food endorsement. Just figured I’d throw that in there, but business is business.

  5. In the case of athletes I don’t think it’s selling out because I don’t think they’re really selling health (professionally) in the first place. I look at them as entertainers.

    To me Jillian or Dr. Oz or Jane Fonda (to go ahead and date myself too) on the other hand ARE selling themselves as someone who can change your health (whether it’s through diet or fitness).

    I don’t think I’d necessarily label them as selling out but I think their choices are worthy of more scrutiny than others.

  6. #1 – happy birthday Major Pilot!

    #2 – I completely agree with you. Something about an Olympic athlete being in a McDonald’s commerical just doesn’t jive with me. BUT I also agree with Brooke in that educating children about what is healthy should be up to the parents. Athletes need to realize that they are huge role models, though, and with all these children looking up to them and a childhood obesity problem going on…. Just how I would think about things if I were in their shoes.

  7. Not getting to see amazing accomplishments of human dedication because athletes had no funding would stink. I love watching the Olympics and other events where you see seemingly super human athleticism.

    Personally, I don’t mind athletes taking on certain sponsorships – most of it is innocuous stuff like the Olympic gymnastics team hawking razors, or maybe a breakfast cereal that isn’t the greatest but is still better than no breakfast at all.

    I’m no athlete though, so I don’t think much on the ethics of the issue. I just know that training all day means the money to sustain such a schedule has to come from somewhere.

  8. Happy Birthday to the Pilot! Sounds like you have an amazing feast planned!

    As for Jillian & the ethics thing… well, I used to LOVE Jillian & thought she could do no wrong, but since she’s come out with so many of those diet pills, & supplements (plus her stint on The Dr.’s)… well, I’ve also changed some of my thoughts on her. I think I know where you’re coming from. I still listen to her podcasts & love when she talks fitness, but hate when she gets into her more emotional things… I just feel like she should stick with what she’s good at & respected for, which is more the fitness & training.

    As for athletes promoting fast food & such, I don’t really agree with it. I don’t think it’s ethical since they work so hard on their bodies that I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t honestly eat Mc Donald’s all the time, or some sugary cereal, so they shouldn’t be promoting or endorsing it. I understand that sometimes they need to make a buck, but I think ethics should prevail & that they should only endorse things they feel strongly about. Just my two cents worth. ;)

  9. I don’t respect Jillian for selling fatburner pills (or lending her face to them) but I don’t fault athletes for doing soda commercials, because they don’t put themselves out there as “I’m an authority on health, take my advice” like she does.

    Plus she has almost zero education in fitness. Though I’m sure that’s not needed to be an ‘expert’. But I’d respect her more if she at least got some simple 6 week cert or something.

  10. Hmm, is there a difference between athletes or celebrities promoting things and getting paid for it and bloggers who review freebies on their blog? It is selling out or grabbing something that is free and comes along with the territory? If there is no convincing message (which often is not there), I don’t think people will ‘buy’ it, quite literally ;-)

  11. I think everyone, not just athletes should promote/support things they use and believe in, but just something for a quick cash fix.. just doesn’t seem right.

  12. First of all, Happy Birthday to Pilot!! Sounds like you guys have a great night of partayyying ahead with the fam!!

    I agree with you- I don’t think athletes should put their names on products that they wouldn’t eat/use. I see it so, so often though (especially in the HLB world!) and it’s pretty disappointing. I agree they need a way to support themselves but I think with all the ‘bad’ sponsorship opps out there, there are so many ‘good’ ones that finding sponsorship shouldn’t be an issue.

  13. That truly does come down to ethics! I totally understand the need for money during training… but can’t they seek help from healthier brands? There’s plenty out there! Enjoy your feast tonight :)

  14. Happy Birthday!! Woohoo for being home for it!!!

    This doesn’t apply to diet aids or pills in my mind but for all the other unhealthy stuff I feel like it humanizes them. They train hard and could very well be more in shape than I’ll ever be because they can just focus on that all day. BUT, in spite of all of that work, they still have the occasional soda. So maybe I can find my own definition of fit without feeling horribly deprived.

  15. I actually don’t mind if an athlete is a spokesperson for something not so healthy – it makes them human and we all know that every once in awhile, we all cave to something that may not be all that good for us. Moderation right? I think we all know that deprivation isn’t the healthiest of practices either. Just keeping everything in perspective.

    And, a very happy birthday to the pilot. My husband’s was the 22nd . . . and for about 6 years he was in the merchant marines (during desert storm, floated plenty of military ware) – our long distance bills were gargantuan! Anyhow, I’m grateful for his service to our country, and his place in your wonderful family. Bless you guys.

    Mo

  16. I have been listening to Jillian’s podcasts lately and heard this one too. I do not know the details of Olympic athlete training but I doubt they all eat completely healthy 100% of the time, so who is to say they are endorsing a product they don’t use. Listening to financial struggles that most Olympic athletes go through, which is way worse than I had ever thought, I find it hard to judge them for how they pay their bills.

  17. I’ve always thought that athletes should only accept sponsorships that reflect their personal values aka not McDonalds and Coke. We wouldn’t take those sponsorships for our blogs, so why should athletes take them? I’ve always found it especially amusing that McDonalds is one of the biggest supporters of the Olympic games, which is all about health and fitness. I’m sure there are people out there who believe that it’s possible to eat McDonalds everyday and be an Olympian. Yeah, right! It’s just very deceptive to the average person who is already bombarded and confused by all sorts of false advertising whenever they walk into a grocery store.

  18. I don’t think that athletes should promote fast food and other things that they don’t consume or use. It is important to practice what you preach and lead by example. “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

  19. Oh, this is an interesting topic! I have mixed feelings. This would be an awesome question to ask some athletes! I’d love to know what they think.
    As a few commenters have said, most of the athletes aren’t promoting health necessarily and they probably do eat the fast food because most of them need MAJOR calories. It’s probably easier for them to get those calories from a huge burger and fries than loading up a huge healthy salad. Sad, but true for a lot of athletes. It does seem a bit strange to see them in those type of adds. It’s hard for me to judge them because I’m sure if I were REALLY needing money and a fast food company offered me 5 million dollars to say, “Eat here, I do!” It would be very hard to turn it down. Just being honest.
    However, if given a healthier option to promote, I would hope they would go that direction.

    I do think kids would be very much persuaded if they saw their favorite athlete promoting a not so healthy product or restaurant. Unfortunately, children will always be tempted with unhealthy eats. I guess this can just be added to the list. I think, as Brooke said, it’s up to us at home to teach our children healthy eating habits so that hopefully they know to make good choices.

  20. You have to remember a lot of athletes grew up on that crap food. It was not until the seriousness and the training came into play that they cleaned up up their diet. I bet a lot of those athletes head straight for the junk food once the season is over. Ask a bodybuilder who has eaten nothing but chicken and broccoli for weeks what they eat the hour after they complete their competition. How about you runners. After a mary, what do you eat?

    • I completely agree with this. They have to live very disciplined lives while in preparation and after its all over, they often go straight for foods that have been off limits. I know a body builder personally and just this week he made the exact same statement on his FB page. He said he can now eat chocolate without guilt or fear. Also, after the recent Olympics, one of the US athletes (I don’t remember which one) said the first thing he did was go straight to McDonald’s for BigMacs and a vanilla milkshake. You can’t live that strict 100% of the time. And we shouldn’t expect them to – they’re human, too. I don’t feel let down because someone eats a Big Mac once in a while. I also realize that many of the athletes have teams of people (managers, trainers, etc) working for them, so they do need to find some way of generating income. Endorsements provides income and also gets their name/face out there.

  21. Happy Birthday to your Husband!

    I think the sponsorship thing is a really topic and there can be a lot of interesting discussions about them.

    It’s interesting because I do not really have an issue with Apollo Ono or Ryan Howard pimping out Subway or whomever is shrilling for McDonalds. We have to realistic and understand that fast food chains and ‘unhealthy’ choices are some of the only choices people have. And I do not interact with those celebrities.I see them as professionals and also very out of my reach or realm.

    I do, however, give a huge eye roll or side-eye, when I see bloggers receiving ‘ambassadorships’ and sponsorships from big-name companies. It actually has to opposite effect on me. I won’t purchase any New Balance or Brooks gear because I’ve seen them shower freebies on bloggers who barely use the product and don’t do professional-level or useful reviews. (SPELL CHECK!) It seems both lazy and opportunistic. I guess because I don’t interact (in a cyber way) with celebrities, but I do follow along with blogs and they are much more ‘real.’ I expect to be advertised to on television, billboards, and movies. However, the blog things are a little impersonal and fake.

    I do love your blog, Fitnessista, and respect your opinion and reviews. You put thought and time into your work and it shows. My point is simply that sponsorships for professional athletes is one thing but ‘normal/nonprofessional athlete/bloggers pimping out every.single.brand or sneaker is questionable.

    • Fitnessista says:

      thank you- that’s something that’s really important to me. i was offered a pretty sweet deal with another shoe company but said no, because i haven’t worn that brand since i was in elementary school ;)

  22. Happy birthday to the Pilot! :)

    And I do agree with you!

  23. I LOVE the Jillian Michaels’ podcast–it’s my favorite thing to listen to when I go for runs and long walks…That conversation caught my attention this last week, too. All throughout the Olympics this past summer I hated seeing athletes promoting products that most definitely aren’t healthy by any means (soda pops, fast food, etc.), but I’d never thought of it in the way she pointed out–that they’re broke because they spend all of their money on training yet get little financial gain from their accomplishments…I guess I don’t know what I would do. Though it’s more understandable now, I still just don’t like that impressionable kids who look up to these athletes might think that drinking a can of Pepsi will help give them the energy they need to be a good athlete…definitely a dilemma!

  24. I listened to the same podcast and was thinking the same things! I love Jillian but also thought she was being a little bit of a sell out when she left biggest loser and came out with her diet products. I still love her though and really enjoy listening to her podcasts. She makes some outstanding points!
    I agree that athletes should only promote things that they stand behind. When I was younger, I was obsessed with Michael Jordan. I begged my parents for Air Jordans even though they were so boyish! If he were to have been on candy bars, soda, whatever, I would have wanted it. So for our youths sake, yes, I think they should promote healthy foods because like Jillian said, they aren’t eating that crap themselves!

  25. As someone with a health business, I know that there is always compromise. Sometimes, it really does come down to doing something you would rather not, or go out of business. I’m sure it is the same for athletes. Promote xyz drink, or lose your agent and be unable to attend the world cup. I wish it was not like this, but in fact, everyone does it. Every time I see an ‘enviro-blogger’ talking about stevia, or rice protein, I wonder if they know how much waste these products create and how excessively processed they are (think about how much protein is in rice and what it takes to get that out of it). Those that promote vegan flax oil capsules – are they aware that the glycerine in the gel cap comes from environmentally destructive palm oil? There is a lot of compromise and, basically, everyone is a part of it unless you are growing everything in your back yard.

    So, IMO, it’s best not to judge. Everyone does what they have to, and hopefully, the good outweighs the bad and once success really hits, that person has the freedom to really say what they think – like how Jililan Michaels spoke out against the ethics of the Biggest Loser.

    • This is so interesting! I have never heard of any of this (and I imagine a lot of others haven’t heard about it either). The closest thing I’ve heard to the palm oil argument was trying to get it out of Girl Scout Cookies.

      Slight tangent to the discussion at hand but I love catching a little golden nugget of info like this in the comments section.

      Thanks for sharing! :)

  26. Hmm, I see both sides! I agree with you that athletes should only promote products/foods that they use and enjoy themselves. And, I’m sure that even hardcore athletes eat junky food once in a while. I do think that, for children that are more vulnerable to wanting what their idols have, it is a bit of a bad example..

  27. I def. see both sides of it! I loved how she mentioned in her podcast that if you go into an Olympic training center you will NOT see the athletes chugging a Gatorade or a coke. Unfortunately they all can’t be the Michael Phelps of the world and have to rely on sponsorships.
    As for her diet pills – I was listening to a different poscast of hers when she was talking about the biggest loser and how she is going to team up with them again and that she had strict requirements for her going back to the show. One of them was branding herself on products.
    I really enjoy her podcast for sure! I love how open and blunt she is! I would love other recommendations for other podcast you listen to while on runs!

  28. I thought about this a lot during the Olympics when McDonalds was a major sponsor and the athletes were doing a bunch of commercials. Does anyone really believe that after a workout these Olympic athletes are headed to McDonalds? I hope not. Sadly most of the fast food and junk food companies are the ones with all the money. As far as whether it is right, I guess I am more forgiving of Olympic athletes as most of them make little to no money and as you said spend a ton on training. I am less forgiving of pro-athletes who make a lot of money for their sports and still go on accept sponsorship from unhealthy places simply because they are greedy. Definitely an interesting discussion.

  29. Happy belated birthday to the pilot!!

    I think there are valid reasonings on both ends, and it makes me think of bloggers who accept/review products that may not fully represent their lifestyle. Personally, I tend to be disappointed with such individuals, whether that be athletes or bloggers. It’s important to make a name for yourself as the person who stands true to his/her beliefs, not as the person who is swayed by money or free swag.

  30. It’s funny this is your post today. I just finished Geneen Roth’s book Lost and Found Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money. Obviously it talks about a plethora of issues, but one she feels pretty strongly about is knowing where your money actually goes when you invest in stocks and such. As in, making sure the companies you are funding support your beliefs and passions, not just your returns and bank account. It’s a little different scenario, but whether you are a celebrity, pro athlete or average joe, if you don’t make the effort and sacrifice to support the companies that you believe in and that make the world better, then who will?

  31. I’m so jealous of you and the farm boxes, I wish we had something like that around here…Awesome! I do agree with what you are saying about the athletes/celebrities. Bob did the same thing that Jillian did with the diet program/pills and I was a little disappointed but I do still love both of them. I dont really understand it though as I could never promote something or put my name on something I didnt truly believe in!

  32. If you have never seen it, you need to Netflix the Documentary “Killer At Large: Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat.” They talk a lot in the film about marketing–and especially to children, and how this ties in with our ever growing problem of childhood obesity in America. Once you watch it, you won’t just think of these endorsers as “sell outs”–you’ll be mad. I was.

    Personally, I think if you’re in the public eye, ESPECIALLY as an athlete you should be promoting the healthy lifestyle that got you there in the first place. It should be about positive influence, and not making more money.

  33. I can see both sides. I think as a society we need to take responsibility for educating ourselves and our dependents about what’s healthy and what’s not-regardless of who promotes it. On a different side, I wonder if athletes are losing better opportunities because they sell out. Even ms. JM herself as talked about some of the poor choices she’s made and sold out.

    The thing that has my mind working when I see these poor sponsorship choices is wondering if that opportunity just feel into their lap or they went and put themselves out there and this was the best business relationship they got. My thought, the athletes sport success didn’t fall into their lap so they should be willing to go work the business side or push their support staff to work to find better fitting gigs.

  34. I’m pretty sure that here in Canada (and possibly North America), NO ONE is allowed to make false statements about products (even including bloggers). So if Jillian says, “I love these pills, I use them all the time”, and somehow it comes out that she doesn’t use them, then she could be in big trouble.

    Terr O’Reilly did a podcast. But I can’t find the exact link for the life of me.

    • Umm way to spell/grammar check… Terry O’Reilly did a podcast on this issue, is what I meant to say.

    • I don’t think it works that way in the US. People say all sorts of things in commercials and get away with it. Advertisers and bloggers are required by US law to disclose payment for sponsorships and paid testimonials however there is very little if any regulation of what they say beyond that aside from outright fraud. It is difficult to prove if someone truly likes something or even if they use it and It would take a pretty egregious act to result in any type of investigation here. However the court of public opinion can be a different matter so if you are outed I suppose it could ruin your career. I take advertisements of any kind with a grain salt or at least I try to I admit I can be a sucker at times. :-). I am going to look for that podcast thanks for sharing.

      As to the original topic I think athletes and celebrities should only endorse products they truly like however I am a realist and I realize that there isn’t always money in that. So as a society we need to stop idealizing their celebrity and start idealizing their work ethic and determination. If we all worked as hard at our chosen endeavor as they work on their training we would all see amazing results. Easier said than done I know.

  35. It’s never really occurred to me that it’s disingenuous for an athlete to endorse fast food or soda, because it’s not much of a stretch to think that many actually consume those products from time to time. I bet there are some NFL, NBA and MLB players who can hit up a drive through pretty hard!

    Now, don’t get me started on Eva Longoria, Jessica Alba and Sarah Jessica Parker hawking boxed hair dye. Yeah right!!!

  36. I really think that althetes should be careful about what they support. If they like it or not they are role models to other people and I don’t think they should put their faces on something they not personally use or ‘beluebe’ in!

  37. I understand that athletes often depend on income from endorsements to make a living (so to speak…it’s all relative), but I believe they have an ethical obligation to endorse products that are healthy/legitimate/however you want to refer to them. Many of their fans are unfortunately very impressionable…

  38. While I agree that endorsing certain things make them less than ideal role models, to say they’re “selling out” implies that it’s against a stance they previously took, and for athletes I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think any professional athletes spent all that time training simply because they want to promote health and activity. Their job is to promote themselves and their sport. I view them more as an entertainer than anything else. And since they’re training for hours every day, they probably do eat at McDonalds, or could without any adverse affects. I know when I was in high school, the athletes did, but they could, cause even at the high school level they were working out for 2+ hours most days. When it comes to someone like Jillian whose career is selling health, then it’s a different story and I think what she promotes should be analyzed more carefully.

  39. Everyone lives by a moral code, whether you live amorally, or abide by strict morals–you live by what you believe. When athletes or celebrities sacrifice their integrity in order to get more money or fame, I just lose respect for them. I understand athletes need endorsements to do what they do, but there are other areas they can sacrifice, in my opinion.

    This is a different tangent but I suppose runs the same parallel- my friend is a model and REFUSES to do lingerie. She’s a mother of boys & a Christian and it’s against her values. She firmly is against the exploitation of women for men’s pleasure & just preferred to do clothing or runway. Anyways, she could’ve landed a huge $$$ contract, but it was required that she did lingerie/partial nudity. She’s not in the modelling industry anymore, she’s a sales associate at Nordstroms making exponentially less than she would as a model–but she doesn’t regret it one bit, she’s lived by her standards & I think that is something to admire & respect.

    On another note, there is a huge obesity, diabetes, heart disease, & HEALTH problem in America, and famous athletes/celebs have the platform to impact millions of Americans, children & adults, & promote a healthy lifestyle.. I think they should. Are they obligated to? No, it’s their own choice, but I personally think they should take the responsibility to make our world a better place. Helping people-that’s what life’s about. JMO!

  40. The problem is they might assign their name to a certain brand that does healthy option food, but by signing on with that brand they are obliged to do any products requested of them and sometimes they might be less healthy than the products they thought they’d be endorsing…wow sorry for the ramble hope it makes sense!

  41. First, I love the fact you mentions Oksana Baiul because gymnastics, FTW! Anyway, I agree and this is something that drove me crazy during the Olympics. It’s a catch-22 these athletes spend a heck of a lot of money to become the best, and they need to make money somehow, and the companies willing to pay them top dollar are not always the best or most ethical companies. As an adult it doesn’t affect me too much, but when I worry about kids seeing it.

  42. Christina J says:

    I believe that athletes have a right to sign a sponsorship with whomever they can get since that’s where their money is coming from. Also, they are healthy since they workout continually. The athletes aren’t saying that you should eat unhealthy everyday. They are just endorsing a product so that the product and themselves can get more money.

  43. Alexis Barry says:

    This is such an interesting subject. I’ve always wondered to myself, “Why are they promoting that? There’s no way they eat that”, when I see commercials or ads with athletes promoting things like McDonald’s or other not-so-healthy products. In my opinion, athletes should not promote products that they do not use themselves, especially if it is something that isn’t healthy. By putting their names and faces on fast food companies and sugary cereal products they are influencing the nation to purchase and consume these products, which in turn brings up the issue of overweight and obesity in America. If more athletes would promote healthy drinks, foods, companies, etc., then more Americans would be compelled to purchase those products. And by doing this, it also teaches kids to eat healthy and take care of their bodies at a young age.

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