IMG_4194-300x198As Director of the nation’s oldest weight loss camp for children and teens, Camp Shane, I have spoken to thousands of parents about their pain over their overweight kids’ struggles.   Recognizing that childhood obesity is truly a family affair is a positive change in how we can all get a handle on this epidemic that is hurting our kids.

For any change to be long-lasting, a child’s entire family has to be involved (and supportive). Since kids neither shop for themselves, nor handle the family’s cooking, what is available in their home and presented at their meals is a vital piece of this challenging puzzle, but nothing should feel like a punishment to the child.


Here are some ideas that will help:

  1. Skinnier siblings should be fed the same food as the overweight child.
  2. Weight loss nutrition should be a family affair–everyone should learn about good nutrition and how to read food labels.
  3. Kids should go along (and be involved) in trips to the supermarket.
  4. Enlist your child’s help to decide what should be banished from the family pantry (Dad doesn’t really need to watch the game with his hand in that bag of chips, either).
  5. Everyone in the family should learn to cook healthily. (Even the youngest kid can learn to wash a head of lettuce or squeeze lemon over a piece of fish). Weight loss menus should become the majority of the family’s recipe box.
  6. Ask older kids to research and download healthy recipes from the internet. We feature several under “Recipes for Effective Weight Loss” on the Camp Shane website.
  7. Make a family cookbook. (Leave out Grandma’s Five-Cheese Lasagna or rework it less calorically.) You may even include family photos of “before” you all undertook a program of weight loss and fitness and “after” shots showing the slim new family.
  8. A nutritionist can be hired for one visit to give a family consultation and meal plans for weight loss nutrition.
  9. Everyone can attend a healthy cooking class. Healthy nutrition can be learned while everyone is having fun.
  10. A family Weight Watchers subscription makes a good Mother’s or Father’s Day gift.
  11. Buy a family gym membership and use it…create an in-house fitness camp.
  12. Celebrate victories with a great hike or a swimming excursion to a local lake. (Pack a heart healthy picnic).
  13. Join a local cancer walk as a group.
  14. Use the exercise programs on the Wii or Xbox One Kinect for a family “Olympic” competition on Family Game Night. Family weight loss and fitness should be serious but not grim. Have fun with it!

Parental involvement will make the difference between success and failure in a child’s weight loss battle. We have 42 years of experience at Camp Shane in helping kid’s lose weight and keeping it off is a much easier proposition with family support. We know parental involvement will make the difference between success and failure in a child’s weight loss fight. We welcome community- school-based programs as fellows warrior in this vital battle for our kid’s health–a battle we just can’t lose.


For more information on how to help overweight children with weight loss, nutrition and fitness, visit us on the web at