Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: Celebrity endorsements: Do they actually work?

Published: Thursday, May 31 2012 4:25 p.m. MDT

Jessica Simpson leaves Weber High School following an assembly in 2008.

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Losing baby weight can be difficult.

Lucky for stars like Jessica Simpson, who’ve got multi-million dollar weight-loss companies behind them to give them an edge. And, of course, lots and lots money for their endorsement.

Since giving birth to baby Maxwell Drew earlier this month and allegedly putting on more than 40 pounds (“let’s just say it was more than 25,” she joked), Simpson has made a goal to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight, and decided Weight Watchers was the way to go.

"We're thrilled that Jessica Simpson has chosen to join Weight Watchers to adopt a healthier lifestyle and inspire others to do the same,” states Weight Watchers. “Her talent, resilience and positive outlook already make her a great role model, and by deciding to trade in yo-yo dieting for a healthier lifestyle, we know she will inspire many women to join her.”

Simpson isn’t the only star to endorse the company. Actress and spokeswoman Jennifer Hudson and basketball star/sports commentator Charles Barkley have also been huge (pardon the pun) proponents of the program with amazing results. Hudson lost 80 pounds, and even wrote a book titled “I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down” about her journey.

“The key thing is figuring out what your issues are, and it's really never about the food,” Hudson explains in an interview with The Huffington Post. “You have to be real and honest with yourself. I had to stop and look and ask myself, 'Why do I want this? What is the real reason?'"

I saw something on TV a while ago about eating and feelings associated with sitting down for a meal. Dr. Oz was explaining how much our eyes affect our appetite. He had two people sit down for a meal and told them to eat until they felt like stopping. They finished their plates. The next day, he had them do the same thing. Only this time, he put blindfolds on. The results were pretty interesting. Both only ate about half of what was on their plate.

Why?

“It's easy to become hypnotized by the rhythmic motion of your fork or get lost in thoughts or emotions, paying little or no attention to how much you're putting in your tank,” says Dr. Oz. Putting blindfolds on helps you focus strictly on your stomach and blocking out other distractions, including looking at the food in front of you and thinking, “I have to finish what’s on my plate.”

I come from a family with good genes. My mom and dad are both slim and fit. In fact, my dad didn’t even hit the 100-pound mark until high school. They work incredibly hard to stay in shape, including running biking, and swimming. In fact, they’ve both competed in the Iron Man triathlon — three times for my dad, twice for my mom.

My mother made it a point to cook healthy meals for us growing up and has since become a little stricter with her diet, usually buying locally grown, organic produce and cutting down on meat.

But as much as she’s told me over and over again how important it is to “eat healthy!” or “tone up ‘cause you don’t want to look flopsie mopsie!” (actual advice) for some reason, the fact that Simpson or Hudson or whomever the celebrity is endorsing weight loss or nutrition makes it that much more interesting and appealing.

Bottom line: celebrity endorsements work. Right?

Now hold on, a minute.

Forbes Magazine recently did a study to find out if this were actually true. Survey says:

“Seventy-seven percent of respondents claimed that ‘when a sports star, movie star or other celebrity endorses a product’ they are no more or less likely to buy it. Fourteen percent stated they are less likely to buy. Only 4 percent stated they are more likely to buy.”

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