Singer Katy Perry is being criticized for promoting childhood obesity by endorsing soda giant Pepsi. Perry will be the subject of a full-page ad in Variety on Oct. 22, where consumer advocacy groups will urge the pop star to not market the sugary soft drink, especially to kids.
"It's a sad story that some of the best-known celebrities in the country are encouraging their young audiences to drink beverages that are bad for their health," consumer-rights activist Michael Jacobson told USA Today Oct 20. "We're focusing on Katy because she's so popular with young people."
The ad copy reads: "Being popular among children brings with it an enormous responsibility. Don't exploit that popularity by marketing a product that causes disease in your fans."
Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, underscored that one in three children is overweight or obese, and that sugary sodas play a major role in childhood obesity.
Perry, who's about to drop her new album, "Prism," joins a long list of celebrity Pepsi endorsers, which has included Michael Jackson and Cindy Crawford. Earlier this year, singer Beyonce inked a $50 million multi-year endorsement contract with Pepsi.
Katy, who doesn't have a long-term deal with Pepsi, has yet to respond. Meanwhile, Pepsi reacted to the backlash by insisting it doesn't market its sugary sodas to children under age 12.
"We have a long history of responsible advertising and marketing practices, including a commitment to not direct our advertising to audiences comprised predominantly of children under 12," said Pepsi rep Andrea Foote.
Perry isn't the only celebrity who has been criticized for endorsing unhealthy foods. Earlier this month, superstar athletes LeBron James, Serena Williams and Peyton Manning were slammed for promoting poor eating habits through their lucrative fast-food and junk-food endorsement deals.
In May 2012, a public-health group urged the Federal Trade Commission to yank a Gatorade ad featuring basketball legend Michael Jordan, claiming the commercial encouraged kids to engage in unhealthy behavior.
That same week, a group of physicians petitioned President Barack Obama to stop being photographed in public eating junk food, saying these images promote obesity and cancer by sending the message that it's OK to eat hot dogs, cheese steaks and hamburgers.
Obama, 52, has since curbed his public junk-food-eating photo ops and even quit smoking.