I recently decided to revisit some of my old posts, brush them off and bring them out for some fresh air–a kind of spring cleaning. I found a few that I have now fluffed up or polished, but this one is screaming for immediate attention.
As I write, I am sitting and watching Game 5 of the NBA finals–Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors. The postseason with the advance of Cleveland and LeBron James has necessitated this postscript to “Dominique et Moi”. There, I wrote about my meeting with NBA legend and diabetes ambassador Dominique Wilkins on his visit to the Health Center where I worked. (Yes, really! Did you miss that one?)
In that meeting, I asked Dominique how he felt about famous athletes using their celebrity to market unhealthy products–making reference to LeBron’s Pepsi ads which were running at that time. Though not to single out LeBron, I do find certain celebrity endorsements particularly troubling. During this year’s final rounds, LeBron has been featured in an ad for Kia automobiles.
The spot starts out with him sitting alone in his kitchen, eating a bowl of cereal with a box of Fruity Pebbles prominently displayed. The milk is in a plain, round, unmarked glass bottle. Just as he raises the spoon to his mouth, his zen moment is interrupted by a maintenance worker outside the window wielding a noisy leaf blower. LeBron leaves the table, miffed that his quiet moment has been disturbed–but not before five camera shots feature the Fruity Pebbles. A few more distractions, including his kids playing with a ball, pursue him until he finally finds solace in the quiet, obviously roomy and reclining back seat of his very clean and crumb-free fancy Kia.
I have been catching up on recent seasons of Mad Men so I know how these pitches are made by ad companies. But, can someone please tell me what marketing seduction was intended here? Does Kia own Post Foods or are they just sleeping together? What demographic is eating kids’ cereals and buying fancy cars? Long-legged adolescents saving their lawn mowing money? And, why is LeBron party to it all?
Ironically, recently as I watched LeBron on the court, I noticed he seemed more lean and lithe than I remembered. I turned to Pete, my source for all things sport and nutrition-related. Concerned he may have missed something, I implored him to get me some scoop on LeBron’s diet. Thirty seconds later he was back to me with a report that sure enough, this incredible sports phenomenon was adhering to a lower carbohydrate diet and was playing minus fifteen to twenty pounds this season. I was not surprised. I knew it! No Fruity Pebbles for King James. Notice he doesn’t actually eat the cereal in the ad. And, I am also going to venture that he’s likely lactose intolerant and not much of a milk drinker.
Well, I do hope that these athletes heed some warning from Dominique. Not even the creme de la creme are immune from negative dietary impacts and diabetic consequences. Well, except maybe LeBron–because the way he plays, he likely is immortal. And, they should be mindful of the messages they embody through their endorsements. But, hey, what is that food that his nemesis is hawking on his jersey? Curry? You mean that the anti-inflammatory spice blend that may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and that contributes to some spectacular shooting? I wonder who is marketing that.
The truth of the matter is that increasingly, many athletes (and teams) are caring a lot about diet and nutrition and making it a prime focus for performance and endurance–and for helping others.
Here is what LeBron is really fueling on, and what he actually drives. Here is what Steph Curry is doing to promote healthy eating. And, here is how 4-time NBA Champion John Salley has committed himself to conscious eating.
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In health, Elyn
OH, DEAR ME. After writing this whole thing, I went to look up the ingredients of Fruity Pebbles for a link, only to find out that Fruity Pebbles is also a LeBron James endorsed Nike Air Foamposite One sneaker!! Wow. Your thoughts?
My Plate Haiku
Food is medicine
Farmers are doctors, Cooks priests
Eat, pray, eat, pray, love.