Scientists warn on celebrities promoting fads

Celebrity endorsements? They should check their facts, say scientists

Celebrities should check their facts before signing up to endorse fads or products, scientists warn today.

The charity Sense About Science has accused some public figures of confusing people with misleading endorsements for products and theories based on a poor understanding of the science involved.

And the celebrities on its verbal scientific blunders of 2007 hit list? Actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman, designer Stella McCartney, and writer Gillian McKeith.

One recent example is Nintendo’s Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training computer game, which received many celebrity endorsements, most notably from Nicole Kidman, who starred in the television advert campaign.

Players carry out various cognitive exercises to stimulate blood flow to the brain. Nicole says: ‘I have quickly found that training my brain [with Nintendo’s Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training computer game] is a great way to keep my mind feeling young.’

But Dr Jason Braithwaite, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Birmingham, said the claim was debatable.

‘There is no conclusive evidence that the continued use of these devices is linked to any measurable improvement in cognition,’ he warns.

The Sense About Science initiative is an update of a leaflet published a year ago, aimed at encouraging celebrities to avoid promoting ‘quackery and mumbo-jumbo’.

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