From Meryl Streep to Jenny McCarthy: Nearly A Quarter Of Parents Trust Celebrities On Children’s Health

Searching to see what Katie Cruise is feeding Suri or what Jennifer Garner chooses for her daughters is probably a fun past-time, but a new study by TIME suggests that the fascination may be going too far. A sizeable chunk of parents now place “some trust” in celebrity opinions on children’s health.

TIME reports that 24% of parents surveyed are at least somewhat sold on what a celebrity advocates for children. To assuage your worry, only 2% trusted celebrities “a lot.” Nevertheless, TIME‘s findings raise serious concerns about how parents navigate health decisions for their children, especially considering celebrities are not doctors. Celebrities, although well-intentioned, can often end up on the wrong side of reason.

Remember when Meryl Streep protested against Alar in fruit pesticides in 1989? The “Alar scare” of 1990 was later proved to be “totally without scientific merit,” according to the American Council on Science and Health, but Streep’s participation in the case is what propelled the “scare” into being a national news story.

Most recently, Jenny McCarthy has been outspoken about vaccines causing her son’s autism. She maintains that he was cured through chelation therapy. She even wrote a New York Times bestselling book exposing her theories. Meanwhile, eighteen different studies have been executed that denounce the link between vaccination and autism.

While celebrities may have access to better healthcare professionals that most American families, Gary Freed, chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit at the University of Michigan, has a different observation:

Celebrities are juxtaposed to medical experts as credible sources of information by the media. As long as that continues to occur, the public will continue to assume they are as credible as credible sources really are.

Point well-taken. So while Natalie Portman chooses to take a break from veganism while she’s expecting, remember that she’s not exactly a nutritionist.

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