April 27, 2006

Cafeteria lunches – usually horrific in both taste and effect on the body – is at the center of a new contest from rapper 50 Cent as part of his new campaign to encourage healthy eating habits among today’s youth.

The artist is the spokesman and judge for a new nationwide cooking competition sponsored by Glaceau, which is partly owned by the rapper and distributes his grape-flavored Vitamin Water drink, Formula 50.

The contest,aimed at preventing childhood obesity by improving eating habits, students in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle are invited to create the most "nutrient-rich" cafeteria lunch recipe, with the winner receiving a $100,000 college scholarship.

Fifty, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, says his famous arms and six-pack abs are the result of regular exercise and healthy eating, but he admits his attitude toward nutrition wasn’t always on point.

"I had all of the unhealthy habits," the 29-year-old told the Associated Press. "Soda ... a lot of fast food, all those things."

But with platinum selling records, a label and a Reebok sneaker line contributing to his bank account these days, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is much easier for the New York native.

"I have someone that I can actually have prepare the food for me, so it's a huge difference than just getting McDonald's or Burger King," he said, adding that he tries to avoid sweets, and sneaks soda only when it’s “available.” He chooses instead to keep his fridge stocked with Glaceau beverages.

"It's a better reflection of my lifestyle," he said. "I don't drink alcohol and I don't need an energy drink."