First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” Initiative and her rallying cry against the epidemic of childhood obesity is to be applauded. As the Director of the premiere diet and lifestyle resorts for both children and adults  (Camp Shane and Shane Diet & Lifestyle Resort), I have been on the front line of  the weight loss and fitness wars since 1968 and I’ve learned a thing or two.

Her call for healthier food to be served in schools and sold in neighborhoods, coupled with the need for more exercise by kids are all important steps in this vital fight to improve the health of overweight children ,but my experience in dealing with child and teen weight loss shows that when it comes to childhood obesity, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In other words, it is often the case that obese parents make for overweight children.

My findings have been born out of such studies as that in The International Journal of Obesity which shows that children with obese parents–especially those of the same sex as the child–have a 10 times greater risk of being overweight than children of parents who maintain a healthy weight.

Parents, both as gatekeepers of the family kitchen and overseers of their children’s routines, have the ability to steer their children towards that healthier weight. According to experts at Ohio State and Temple Universities, limiting kids’ television watching, making sit-down family meals a priority, and ensuring kids get at least 8 hours of sleep a night results in a 40% reduction in the risk of childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity is not a problem that begins or ends with the child. I think it is a mistake that Michelle Obama and her advisors elected not to focus on parents, who can, through changing routines at home, can create an atmosphere conducive to effective weight loss. Just as the mother and father gave their children life, it is within their power to help make sure that life is a long and healthy one.


David Ettenberg


Camp Shane (Children’s weight loss and fitness camp)

Shane Diet Resorts (Fitness & Diet Resorts for adults & young adults)