In their latest attempt to nanny the country, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), has attacked former Olympic champion figure skater Michelle Kwan for her love of Coca-Cola.
Kwan is one of Coca-Cola’s brand ambassadors at the 2014 Winter Olympics, as well as a member of the President’s Council on Fitness — positions that the CSPI said show a conflict of interest.
“The dual roles for the five-time world champion skater cannot be reconciled since Coca-Cola and the President’s Council communicate opposing messages when it comes to sugar drinks,” CPSI said in a press release.
The National Center for Public Policy Research defended Kwan in a statement on Tuesday, saying that the CSPI’s complaints against her are “absurd” because the President’s Council does not eliminate sugary drinks from what they consider a healthy diet, but only advises kids that they should consume the drinks in moderation.
Jeff Stier, senior fellow at the policy group and director of its Risk Analysis Division, said that the CPSI’s view “undermines public health by suggesting that people who enjoy an occasional sugary beverage cannot be active, athletic, and healthy.”
According to Stier, having Kwan as an ambassador for Coca-Cola is good because she can lead by example in terms of having a balanced diet that includes the drink.
This is not the first time the CSPI has targeted the President’s Council on Fitness members. Back in September, Shaquille O’Neal was under fire for appearing at Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign despite his own line of 270-calorie “Soda-Shaq” drinks.
“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,” CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson said.
However, Stier calls for an end to the attacks and an end to viewing the country’s health initiative as a “war” on obesity, rather than a solvable problem.
“If public health groups truly seek to help Americans deal with obesity, they should seek higher ground and abandon the attacks,” Steir said in a Forbes op-ed. “Instead, they should take a seat at the table with anyone willing to have a constructive dialogue, with the focus on helping people, rather than on battering companies.”