Nonprofit health advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is slamming the First Lady's Let's Move program for choosing Shaquille O'Neal as a spokesperson. In a September 4 release, CSPI emphasized that they applaud the First Lady's Let's Move initiative.
However, they say "it's not appropriate to include prominent endorsers of sugary drinks and junk food in photo-ops or events aimed at promoting Let's Move or other anti-obesity initiatives." And that's where the choice of Shaquille for events such as the back to school healthy event announced on September 3 by the White House gets slammed.
The problem with Shaquille: "Sugary drinks are one of the leading culprits behind obesity in kids and adults, and one of the most important messages coming out of an anti-obesity campaign should be for Americans to drink fewer sugary drinks.
Shaquille O'Neal's new line of sugar drinks have 270 empty, obesogenic calories in every oversize can," says CSPI. Children and teens idolize Shaquille, and he seems to be responding to his fans by selling them unhealthy products.
Shaquille wants it all: Photo ops with the First Lady promoting fitness plus promotions that help him rake in the bucks selling his obesity-inducing sodas. Soda Shaq's starting lineup of cream sodas includes Vanilla, Blueberry, Strawberry, and Orange flavors—each with 270 calories and 17 teaspoons of sugar per can, says CSPI.
Soda Shaq maker AriZona Beverages and retailer 7-Eleven issued a press release saying that consumers "can satisfy their sweet tooth without the guilt," and described the drinks as "all natural." Hmm, all natural as in 17 natural teaspoons of sugar? Something's shaky in Shaquille land.