(ABC News)–A Columbia University researcher has calculated that NBA star LeBron
James' ads might be responsible for selling a billion spoonfuls of sugar
through his endorsement deals with Coca-Cola and McDonalds, and
suggested James drop the ads that are largely aimed at his legion of
And since megastar Beyonce just signed a $50 million deal to be the face
of Pepsi, social epidemiologist Abdul El-Sayed suggested she also
“We all know Beyonce and Lebron aren't walking around eating McDonalds
and drinking soda every day,” El-Sayed told ABCNews.com. “They couldn't
perform the way they perform night in and night out. The companies take
full advantage of it.”
El-Sayed penned an open letter to James earlier this week on The 2×2 Project, a health news website run by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
He broke down James' $16 million, six-year deal with Coca-Cola and
determined that if Coca-Cola recoups its investment in him, at minimum,
then he will have been responsible for having sold 54.4 million 20-ounce
Sprites over the course of his contract.
“Now, each one of those 20-ounce Sprites has 16 spoons of sugar in it,
so LeBron, you're responsible for selling over a billion spoons of
sugar. Not to mention all of the McDonald's grease you're selling,”
He cited a study in the journal Obesity Reports that found a clear link
between watching advertisements for unhealthy foods and the number of
snacks children ate on a daily basis. A second study, from the European
Journal of Public Health, found that eliminating unhealthy advertising
to children could reduce the obesity rate by as much as 18 percent.
“If you have someone as famous as Beyonce saying, 'I recognize these
products are causing harm in society and I don't want to be a part of
it,' it would raise the conversation about these products,” El-Sayed
“If we were to take away these endorsements, in the end I would hope it
would be the kind of thing where their sales wouldn't grow in the way
they do and in the long term, these fall out as mainstays in our
Pepsi declined to comment. A representative of James referred comments
to his sponsors. Representatives for Knowles, along with Coca-Cola and
McDonald's, did not respond to ABCNews.com's request for comment.
Copyright 2012 by ABC News