At least one group is not pleased NBA star Shaquille O’Neal is joining with first lady Michelle Obama to promote her “Let’s Move! Active Schools” initiative.
According to the nonprofit heath advocacy organization Center for Science in the Public Interest, given O’Neal’s new sugary beverage “SodaShaq,” he is “not an appropriate” spokesman for anti-obesity efforts like “Let’s Move!”
“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,” CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan said in a statement Wednesday.
“Shaquille O’Neal’s new line of sugar drinks have 270 empty, obesogenic calories in every oversize can. A celebrity like him shouldn’t have it both ways: You can’t do a photo-op with the first lady promoting exercise one day, and sell disease-promoting sodas the rest of the year,” she added.
The White House recently announced that O’Neal and Olympic gold medalists Allyson Felix and Dominique Dawes would be joining the first lady Friday to highlight her healthy schools initiative.
Earlier in the year, O’Neal launched his soda line in partnership with the AriZona Beverage Company — and the CSPI was not pleased about O’Neal’s marketing then either.
“Clearly, Shaq knows better,” CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said following the launch. “He has said he avoids soda himself, and worries about obesity and diabetes. But he’s now using his name, face and reputation to make those health problems even bigger. It’s shameful hypocrisy, presumably motivated by money.”