LeBron James in spotlight off-court, too. Is he selling caffeine to kids?
LeBron James and his Miami Heat will face the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the NBA Finals Tuesday. Off the court, however, he is being challenged by pediatricians over his new caffeine-heavy energy product, Sheets Energy Strips.
(Page 2 of 2)
Others say more research is needed on the long-term effects of caffeine before a product like this should be marketed.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“We simply don’t know what the use of this drug does to a human body over time, especially younger bodies,” says John Higgins, director of exercise physiology at Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute in Houston. “A majority of the studies examine what is the effect for today, or this week. The literature for what the effects are over years is very thin. That is what’s needed.”
The strips’ packaging carries an admonition saying that children under 12 should not use the product, which is supposed to provide caffeine comparable to one cup of coffee, plus a vitamin boost. But the marketing campaign undermines that message, some say.
“The question is really who are they going to be marketing and selling these strips to?” asks Elizabeth Dowdell, an associate professor of nursing at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. “Having a top sports star say it enhances his fabulous play sends a conflicted message and negates his great natural talent and hard work. Kids are really susceptible to appeals like that.”
But critics say the age limit should be 18 and are calling on James to take what they see as a more responsible position.
“I would fault him for not understanding the platform on which he stands,” says Dan Lebowitz, executive director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University in Boston. “And I call on him to be as responsible as he has been in other areas – in which he has been quite well behaved.”
[Editor's note: A paragraph has been deleted from the original version because it implied tacit approval of energy strips by a source with whom the reporter did not speak.]