Olympics Blog

News about the Summer and Winter Games

« Previous Post | Olympics Blog Home | Next Post »

Michael Phelps: A killer at large?

Michael Phelps poses for McDonald's. BEIJING -- Michael Phelps' endorsements of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes cereal and McDonald's has attracted criticism from the Children's International Obesity Foundation.

In a statement Friday, the foundation said: "As a role model and Olympic hero to America's children, Michael Phelps -- and all athletes and celebrities -- are asked to reconsider any connection to substances suspected as agents of obesity, including sugary cereals, soft drinks and other foods with refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup.''

The statement referred to the documentary, "Killer at Large,'' about the causes of obesity in children, which will be released in November in New York.

One of its producers, Bryan Young, said in the statement: "Michael Phelps' endorsement will undoubtedly influence more children to nag their parents for products that endanger their health so that they can go home, consume these products and gain weight instead of becoming gold medalists. This is unconscionable and we hope that Michael Phelps reconsiders his endorsement contracts.''

Whatever happened to being on the cover of the Wheaties box?

-- Randy Harvey

Photo: Michael Phelps inside a McDonald's on the Olympic Green. Credit: McDonald's

Post a comment
If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate.
Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Comments (20)

I have an idea -- why not ask Phelps why he did what he did?

As a trained athlete and Olympian, Phelps knows the value of good nutrition and a sound and healthy body. Therefore, there must be a reason why he made the choices he made. Ask him.

Dance on ...


P. S. I trust his decision wasn't only based on higher remunerations from those two companies.

Hey, throw the kids in the pool. Teach them to swim, and they will burn off all of that extra sugar and calories. Michael Phelps has been widely known for eating 12,000 calories a day. No ordinary person should be able to eat that much and look the way he looks. But Michael Phelps is extraordinary. So, he might peddle some sweet cereal, but you know why he's able to, because he's a great Olympic athlete that is demonstrating his physical skills. Oh yeah, and he's not raising your kids, is he?

And when the child bugs the parent, the parent can blithely say, "When you swim for 5 hours a day, then I'll buy you Frosted Flakes." Give me a break; people have minds of their own, let them use them.

Athletes and others who endorse fast food restaurants, candy, or other fatty/sugar loaded food are NOT the problem. The problem are incompetent parents who give in to the wishes of their children and then refuse to accept responsibility for their actions.

Michael Phelps didn't buy your child a hamburger and fries from McDonalds. You did.

Whatever happened to "everything in moderation"? There is NOTHING wrong with the occassional McDonald's or bowl of Frosted Flakes. IF kids are getting exercize and are not plopped in front of a video game as babysitter. If they are athletic, the random treat of sugary of french fries is just fine.

Ok Enough Already. Michael Phelps is and never will be responsible for childrens obesity. It is up to the parents or gaurdians of these children to monitor their diets. The diet he keeps is for HIM not anyone else and the MEDIA made it so publicly known and made the big deal about what he eats NOT HIM. Let's take responsibility for our actions and stop blaming music and famous people for our problems!!!

This was a highly sensationalist headline by the LA Times. You're a very good paper, and you don't need to jump into the gutter like this.

Getting into the substantive argument, how is Michael Phelps on the Frosted Flakes box any different than Michael Jordan pitching for McDonalds? What about all the former Olympians who've done deals with Coke?

You're completely leaving both personal and parental responsibility out of this equation. Maybe some kids will demand Frosted Flakes. When I was a kid, I wanted illegal fireworks, a dune buggy, all kinds of nasty sugar filled foods, and my parents said no and told me to go play outside.

No one is making an argument about whether obese kids will nag their parents to enroll them in swimming lessons. Why do we assume that all kids lack self-control and motivation?

One last point. I'm not suggesting this is the ideal endorsement deal for any athlete, but I am very excited that a swimmer is getting this kind of attention. It's too bad that we only recognize athletes outside the major tv sports (baseball, basketball, football) every 4 years. Not every kid is good at those big market sports, and it doesn't occur to many that there are other sports out there like running, swimming, cycling -- even paintball. If you want to fight obesity, one could argue that any publicity for sports is a good thing.

People like you are the reason global warming got so bad. Stop complaining about nothing and write a worthwhile story.


I'm not only going to blame Phelps for my bad eating habits, but I'm also going to blame Nastia Luikin (sp) for my debt. Afterall, she's sponsoring Visa. Get real! Why do these organizations want to point the finger at everyone else? They try to make it seem as if we don't have a mind of our own and we are incapable of making our own decisions. Good grief

I can't believe people are seriously making an issue over this. Number one, as many others have already commented, Michael Phelps is not parenting your child. If you child whines to you about wanting Frosted Flakes and you don't want to get them, don't get them. I think parents have relinquished way too much control, but that's another story for another day. Number two, the occasional bowl of Frosted Flakes or trip to McDonald's is not going to make a child overweight. When I was a child (which wasn't that long ago; I'm only 25), we did this thing called playing outside. I was outside and running around all of the time, even during the winter. And I ate my share of sugary and fatty foods. I still do. But I am not now nor have I ever been overweight. Moderation is key. Children don't typically exercise it on their own, which is why they have parents!

I put so much sugar on my Wheaties that they could kill a horse. Frosted Flakes are probably better for me.

Come on Randy. Let me ask you do you have kids? And if so, do you even know your own children?

Although child obesity can be linked to a gene, a good support system is key to good health. A child is a product of their environment and if parents, grandparents, other family members and friends are active, exercise frequently and eat right then children are going to do the same. Nothing on television or radio will encourage them to do otherwise. The support system, if it is a strong and positive one will lay the foundation for good health and good decision making. Children are a product of their environment. Monkey see, monkey do.

Further, more parents need to teach their children to think for themselves and not do things because other people (famous or not) do it. Eat at McDonalds just because Michael Phelps eats there; buy Frosted Flakes because Michael Phelps is on the box; THAT IS THE MOST REDICULOUS THING EVER!

Also, a child is going to manipulate parents in order to (try) to get their way. This is the true nature of a child. A strong parent will not cave in to the manipulation. A parent wanting to be "friends" and feel the only objective is to keep the child happy will cave. They only have themselves to blame. Those are the people quick to point their finger or place blame towards others instead of taking responsibilty.

Finally, LEAVE PHELPS ALONE! Don't hate on him because he is lean and can basically eat what he wants because his body allows him to. If a huge company like Kelloggs or McDonalds came and asked you to endorse their product you would be FOOLISH not to. And don't try to tell me you wouldn't because if these companies flashed enough incentive your way you know you would.


here's an editorial from that producer that google directed me to that punches a great big whole in that personal responsibility argument you all seem to have:


Would you all get real? Please? Parents do have a remarkable level of influence on their children - especially if parents are the ones doing the grocery shopping. You can control your child's diet - you can peel your kids away from TV and video games and get them to exercise. And the greatest way to do that is through your example.
Kids of smokers are more likely to smoke than kids of non-smokers.
Kids of alcohol and drug abusers are more likely to do the same than those who abstain or drink responsibly (and no, you cannot use drugs responsibly)
Kids of fit, normal weight parents who exercise are more likely to do the same than children of obese non-exercisers.
So if you have a problem with feeding your kids sugary cereals, then don't eat them yourself.
Come on people - Michael Phelps will not be the problem if your kids don't turn out right. Look in the mirror, and if you have to lose a few pounds, then do it.

How rediculous to blame someone else for the obesity of today's children. The blame game can go on and on if that's the case. Why not fault video games for taking our children from their playgrounds.

Parents take the responsibilty of what you purchase for your children." Your decisions" impact your children for the rest of their lives, not Micahel Phelps decisions.

I have worked in the fast food industry for many years where major blockbuster movies were tied in to thousand of happy meals. No one attacked those production companies. People go to the real source "the parents".

I agree that obesity obviously isn't Phelps responsibility..and that it's overreacting to say that by sponsoring a sugary cereal, he will necessarily be contributing to the epidemic.

But - with all the sponsorship offers Phelps receives, it does seem that it would make more sense for his own personal brand to sponsor a healthier cereal--this could increase/help conserve the value and integrity of his own brand. The very fact that some people Are upset about his sponsoring of a sugary cereal suggests that his brand could be hurt by this endorsement--whether or not that's fair. (And will the $ he earns from Kelloggs offset the losses in future potential earnings..impossible to calculate.)

Dr. Tantillo ('the marketing doctor') has a branding blog ( http://blog.marketingdoctor.tv ) and did a recent post on the Michael Phelps brand, discussing the challenges Phelps will have in leveraging his brand for promotions (lack in popularity of swimming as a sport in the U.S., the fact that his brand is closely tied to the Olympics, which is episodic..) and also pointing out ways Phelps will be able to succeed despite these challenges. The promotional ideas he suggests also have a more intuitive tie to Phelps himself.

You're the parent. YOU tell your kid no. It's no one's problem but the PARENT to teach their kids the value of nutrition. And if you give in to your kid(s)' demand for sugary/fattening food, you might as well bend over.

Don't blame others for your ignorance or the fact you can't control your kids.

This is just too funny; if Phelps endorsed cigarettes, no one would say things like "he's not contributing to kids smoking or getting cancer, that's a parent's responsibility." It would just be stupid to say that! But you say that when he endorses obesity-causing food, and you act all self-righteous about it-- which just proves you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Big companies don't pay for athletic endorsements because they're stupid and like to throw money away which doesn't make a difference in sales-- they do it to make a profit, because research PROVES that it gets kids to buy stuff. To say that parents are 100% responsible for anything a kid gets, while ignoring the various influences in their environment, is just plain unfair-- not to mention just plain brainless and arrogant neoconservative claptrap. It's easier to blame the parents, since in their minds Big Business can do no wrong-- and anyone who says otherwise is an commie-liberal. Talk about knee-jerk labeling!

Why are people responsiable for what thier kids eat? Parents should excersise thier right to say NO! saying no to a kid never hurt them. Parents today want everyone else to raise thier children, turn the tv off and say NO


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

About the Bloggers