April 17, 2007 12:12 AM by Joe Blackmon
Childhood obesity is a fast-growing epidemic in the U.S. – obese
children face a shorter lifespan due to weight-related illnesses such
as increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. But hope has arrived
for America’s children. Shaquille O’Neal, a four-time NBA champion and
a role model to millions, is on a quest to battle this scourge and help
kids across America live more healthfully. His new series, "Shaq’s Big
Challenge," will debut TUESDAY, JUNE 26 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the
ABC Television Network and is produced by RDF USA ("Wife Swap").
Shaq and his hand-picked "dream team" of experts embark on a crusade to help transform six obese middle school youngsters from Florida into healthy, fit kids – and along the way, demonstrate how other communities nationwide can help fight childhood obesity. In "Shaq’s Big Challenge" he puts six obese youngsters through the most intense, emotional and rewarding time of their young lives. He is aided by six specialists, including: Shaq’s own physician and trainer, Dr. Carlon "Doc" Colker, M.D.; personal trainer Tarik Tyler; nutritionist Dr. Joy Bauer; childhood obesity expert Dr. William Muinos, M.D. from Miami Children’s Hospital; Food Network celebrity chef Tyler Florence; and Shaq’s Louisiana State University coach Dale Brown. Together they go into the kids’ homes and, schools, then expand their scope to meet with the local school and government officials to develop and implement a wellness program for the children of the community, and later for the entire state of Florida.
This mission does not end with these six children. The goal is for every child in the local schools to take part in Shaq’s plan. His dream team addresses the challenges of providing tasty, kid-friendly nutritious meals on a budget, as well as incorporating more exercise into the kids’ days. For instance, physical education is no longer mandatory in many public schools across the U.S., so Shaq and his team will develop revolutionary programs to allow every child to get consistent exercise while at school. Once he has accomplished his mission at this school, Shaq and his team will have laid the groundwork to achieve their ultimate goal: to create a fitness plan that could be accepted across the whole of Florida and serve as a template for the entire country. "Shaq’s Big Challenge" will change the way we approach the health of a nation — one child, one community, one state at a time, until we truly are a happier, healthier, fitter America.
Executive producers are Rick Ringbakk, Greg Goldman, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Coelen, Christopher Handy, Perry Rogers, Michael Parris and Stephen Lambert. The series is produced by RDF USA. It is based on the hit U.K. series, "Unfit Kids."