Let’s Move … with soda endorsers?

So many people are talking about getting America’s youth healthier. Much of that is likely thanks to the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign.

The campaign encourages kids to eat healthful foods, get active and drink plenty of water. It also promotes collaborations with schools, food companies, legislators and celebrities.

This week, Time Healthland asked a question I’ve also wondered: What happens when these high-profile stars have junk food gigs on the side?
Should celebrities who have Pepsi commercials or their own line of sodas really be a part of the country’s most popular healthy kids campaign?

As the Time article pointed out, Beyonce created a “Move Your Body” music video for the campaign. Kids are dancing in a lunchroom. She takes a big out of an apple.

But Beyonce also has several Pepsi commercials flashing across TV screens in the U.S. (thanks to a reported $50 million deal with the company).

And then there’s Shaq.

Recently, retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal joined First Lady Michelle Obama for an event at an elementary school, according to the article.

But Shaq also recently launched his own line of sodas – Soda Shaq Cream Soda – with AriZona beverages. The supersized sodas contain 17 teaspoons (!) of sugar.
Let’s Move! Director Sam Kass told Time the celebrities help draw attention to the campaign.

“Having celebrities and athletes of great presence really helps us get the message out. They’re cultural icons who have real powerful voices in our communities and particularly for young people—they really respond to messages and their leadership,” Kass told Time. “We certainly want to harness the power of these voices to help create a healthier country. That is really an important component of what we are doing.”

But critics says the inconsistencies hurt the campaign’s credibility and send kids mixed messages.

“One reason any campaign wants a popular celebrity spokesperson is because kids are attracted to them no matter what they are doing. Kids look up to them, and they want to be like them. We can’t expect kids to turn off that admiration when the same person is selling sugar. At best, kids might be confused. At worst, they’ll think the messages about soda are the same as the messages about water, and those two beverages aren’t the same,” Andrew Cheyne, a researcher at the Berkeley Media Studies Group, told Time.

What do you think about the campaign’s affiliation with junk-food promoting celebrities?

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

Scroll to top