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Michelle Obama's juice drink deal puts wealth above health of children, some critics say

Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the United States, came under fire for her partnership with a new children's beverage company called PLEZi Nutrition.

Former first lady Michelle Obama's newly-announced kids' juice drink venture has come under scrutiny by some critics who say the beverage is secretly loaded with sugar and additives, and that Obama is putting her own bottom line above the well-being of children.

At the Wall Street Journal's Future of Everything Festival on Wednesday, Obama announced the launch of PLEZi , a healthy food and beverage company she co-founded that is targeted at fighting childhood obesity.

"We're hoping not to just provide healthy and delicious drinks and snacks for kids, but to jumpstart a race to the top that will transform the entire food industry," Obama wrote in a PLEZi Nutrition press release announcing the launch. "Because let's face it, even after everything we accomplished during the White House years, it is still simply too hard for kids to grow up healthy."

PLEZi Nutrition is rolling out its first product, a fruit juice for kids, in four flavors that it says contains 75% less sugar than average leading 100% fruit juices.


On "Jesse Watters Primetime," host Jesse Watters quipped that with her husband out of his power perch in the White House, it is "her time to shine," but that her kids drinks may not be as healthy as advertised.

"Michelle has sold out to ‘Big Juice’ and she's slinging unhealthy drinks for kids. Whatever happened to Let's Move?" he said, referencing the former first lady's childhood wellness push while her husband was in office.

"She's pushing fruit juice down their throats after she took the meat out of their school lunches," Watters said, playing a montage of children reacting negatively to the Obama administration's changes in federal school lunch standards.

Watters characterized the juice industry as a "sugar filled scam," noting how glazed donuts sometimes have lower sugar content than juice beverages.

He read additives from the label of Obama's new product, reporting it contains citric acid, ascorbic acid, sodium citrate, and magnesium citrate:

"You know what drink tastes really refreshing and doesn't have any of that? Oh, yeah – water. But water doesn't make you richer than your husband," he said.

Calley Means, a former consultant for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola who Watters reported is a "whistleblower" on the state of the beverage industry, said he was "sick to [his] stomach" as a parent watching Obama pitch her new beverage.

"We don't recommend kids should smoke safer cigarettes. But what sugary drinks is doing is far worse and we should not be recommending safe sugary drinks – We should be speaking very, very clearly," Means said.


"She's working with a private equity company that specializes in junk food driven by celebrity partnerships."

Means claimed beverages like Obama's tend to cite purportedly "rigged studies" that reflect their product in a positive light.

"As a parent, I am begging Michelle Obama -- this might not fund the new house in Martha's Vineyard, but please, for the sake of children, speak clearly: Kids should not be eating sugar and not be drinking sugar."

Means said sugar is a provably addictive substance that negatively affects juvenile health – adding that Obama is in a similar position as Dr. Anthony Fauci was when he instructed Americans to submit to the coronavirus vaccine injection, because of his public stature.

He noted that when the U.S. surgeon general's office began mandating warning labels on cigarettes, tobacco use reportedly dropped. In the same way, he urged Obama to be mindful of what she is marketing to children.

Means said 30% of U.S. kids are already pre-diabetic, and that the trend in that direction must stop.


In a press release reported by ABC News, PLEZi Nutrition said it is "focused on lowering sugar content and lowering sweetness to help adjust kids' palates to crave less sweetness overall. In addition to reducing the sugar and sweetness, they are adding in nutrients kids need, all with the aim to replace sugary drinks and snacks."

According to ABC's report, the release PLEZi shared with them noted U.S. children tend not to consume the proper nutrient thresholds and are ingesting 53 pound more added sugar than necessary.

"Sugar-sweetened beverages, also referred to as sugary drinks, are the leading source of added sugar, and nearly two-thirds of youth consume sugary drinks on a given day," it read, according to the outlet.

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