Former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal reportedly plans to endorse a new line of “low calorie sodas” that critics say promote obesity and other health problems. The Soda Shaq line is manufactured by AriZona beverages and will be distributed by convenience retailer 7-Eleven at stores nationwide. A press release announcing the product states that Soda Shaq contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, is made with pure cane sugar and contains only 90 calories per serving, allowing fans to “satisfy their sweet tooth without the guilt from the very first clean and refreshing sip.”
Consumer advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), however, claims that each 24-ounce can of Soda Shaq contains three servings, or 270 calories, and 17 teaspoons of sugar per can. “Despite the implausible assertion on the label that the non-resealable vessel contains three servings, a single can of Soda Shaq cream soda contains about two to three times as much sugar as the [American] heart association recommends for a whole day,” said CSPI.
Noting that as recently as last year, O’Neal professed concern about diabetes and his family members’ struggle with the disease, and even stated on a news program that he tries to “stay away from the sodas,” CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson has called on the retired athlete to reconsider whether he wants to promote a product that allegedly contributes to various health problems. “Clearly, Shaq knows better,” said Jacobson. “He has said he avoids soda himself, and worries about obesity and diabetes. But now he’s using his name, face and reputation to make those health problems even bigger. It’s shameful hypocrisy, presumably motivated by money.” See CSPI News Release, July 17, 2013.