Beyoncé should not let her name and image be used to promote Pepsi-Cola—a product that contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, and other health problems in adults and children, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Today the nonprofit watchdog group urged the pop music star to reconsider her $50 million endorsement deal with PepsiCo, which was first reported in the New York Times on December 9.
“You occupy a unique position in the cultural life of this country and are an inspiring role model for millions of young people,” wrote CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “Your image is one of success, health, talent, fitness, and glamour. But by lending your name and image to PepsiCo, you are associating those positive attributes with a product that is quite literally sickening Americans.”
Each additional sugary drink consumed per day increases the likelihood of a child becoming obese by 60 percent, according to the letter. Each soda consumed per day increases the risk of heart disease in men by 19 percent. Drinking one or two sugary drinks per day increases one’s risk for type 2 diabetes by 25 percent. Diabetes, in turn, can cause complications including amputation, erectile dysfunction, blindness, coma, and early death. Almost all obesity-related health problems have a disproportionate impact on low-income, African-American, and Hispanic communities, CSPI says.
As part of her deal, Beyoncé will star in a new TV ad and perform at the “Pepsi Halftime Show” during the February 3 Super Bowl; her image will appear on some cans of Pepsi, at least in Europe.
This isn’t the first time one of Beyoncé’s financial arrangements has raised eyebrows. On New Year’s Eve in 2009, Beyoncé performed at a party hosted by Hannibal Gaddafi, one of the sons of the now-deceased Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, for a reported fee of $2 million. That money was eventually donated to charity, according to published reports. CSPI says that if Beyoncé goes through with this deal with Pepsi she could similarly consider donating the proceeds to a hospital, a diabetes organization, or another charity involved in the treatment or prevention of soda-related diseases.