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Highlighting innovative "outside the box" ideas, programs, research and products addressing the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Shaq Factor - role models and the media

There's been a lot of press coverage given to ABC's summer television experiment called Shaq's Big Challenge and the reviews of Tuesday night's premier have been mixed. My partners and I know from first hand experience how powerful a message delivered from a positive role model can be. Having worked in the past with such superstars as Bo Jackson, Kristi Yamaguchi, Herschel Walker, Cory Everson, Troy Aikman, Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm and many others there is no doubt that these role models can have a profound impact on the way a young person receives a message(s). In our case, we traveled the country with a highly interactive healthy lifestyle field trip program that reached more than 4 million young people in 43 states and 140 communities. During that time, more than 100 high profile role models participated in the program because they saw first hand the positive impact they were having on the lives of young people. The letters and emails we received from teachers, students, parents and community leaders afterwards, only reinforced the significant role each of our celebrities played in the process.

So, will Shaq actually make an impact on the kids participating in the program? The answer to that question will likely come down to how much he cares. The unfortunate truth about obesity is that it won't end for the actors when the television program is over - and if Shaq is the motivation behind each child, then he must also play a part in the ongoing treatment, education and sustainability.

I'm hoping that the "Shaq factor" will truly have a long term impact on the kids in the program and grow to inspire other children throughout the US to think about their health and fitness. If that happens, and Shaq remains committed to being a true role model for the cause, then we may have a winning formula for a television program that can have a positive impact on the lives of many young people.

Common Sense Media reviewed Shaq's Big Challenge and offered some ideas on how families can talk about what they see and learn on the program. They suggest asking such questions as: Do you think it makes a clear, effective point? What other ways could the experts approach the issue with the kids? Why is obesity such a problem, anyway? What role does the media play in our food consumption and lifestyle habits? Do you think there should be limits on the advertising and endorsements that junk food companies and fast food restaurants can do? Why or why not? Click here to read the review and learn more. They also have a terrific guide for parents and educators to use in helping young people deal with the "healthy and unhealthy" impact media has on their lives (television, video games, computers, movies, music, etc). The guide is called Keeping Kids Healthy in a 24/7 Media World and it's worth reading. You can get it here.

In good health,


Phil Christian
LifeStyle Media Group


1 comment:

DrGwenn said...

Great post and fantastic blog. As much as critics want to get down on Shaq, this may be the wake-up message many families truly need. Too many families just can't, or won't, see their kids as obese and even the ones who do are paralyzed and won't step up and do anything about it. The more ways we find to rally families to a collective "call to action" the better we can help these kids.

My secret hope is the kids who need the help with see the show and rally their parents!

Shaq is trying to do a good thing and using the media in a positive way. People need to keep in mind that the kids in the show are there because they want the help and hope to help other kids. So, I say to the critics - hold off. You may be pulling the trigger a few shows too soon.

Keep you the great work and thanks again for stopping by my blog.

Gwenn

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