Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Response to Camp Shane Weight Loss Camps

I got the following email recently and rather than letting it linger in my inbox or just delete it, I've decided to blog about it and post my response online.  Read the original email and my response below. 

 Hello Aaron Flores,

Camp Shane is the longest running weight loss camp in the world, with 48 years of experience and expertise in the fight against childhood obesity. Including six camps nationwide, we also own and operate an adult diet program.

If you are interested, we would love the opportunity to provide you with original content to publish on your site or blog, at no charge to you. With nine registered dietitians on staff, we have unlimited information to share. 

To see samples of our writing, please view our blog. Virtually every post is original. covers a wide array of topics for kids, young adults, and families. This includes:
  • Childhood Obesity/The Problem and Solutions
  • Nutrition Tips/Recipes
  • Fitness Tips/Exercise Suggestions
  • Healthy Lifestyle Suggestions
  • Featured Articles from Licensed Staff

Additionally, we have several high ranking websites that we would be able to feature you on as well.

We hope to have the opportunity to speak with you further about a potential partnership, and look forward to your reply!

Best regards,

The Camp Shane Team

Dear Camp Shane,

Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me and offering me free content to publish on my site.  
In my work, I never promote any sort of weight loss strategies, especially for children.  I believe in Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size® principles and use them extensively in my practice. If these topics are unfamiliar to you, I recommend you do research about both using the links above.  

If you would have emailed me 10 years ago, I would have jumped at the chance to explore a partnership.  I too used to promote weight loss as a primary strategy towards improving health.  I probably would have been so ecstatic that I might have even asked to work with you. But I've changed a lot since then.  I've come to see, not only in myself but in the research, how a focus on weight-loss and restrictive eating habits only leads to disordered eating patterns and future weight gain.  

Aside from the unhealthful relationship with food, the stigma of being in a larger body is something that is caused from our focus on weight and our "one size fits all" mentality.  After all, what we are really teaching people when we encourage them to lose weight is: "Your body is not right; you need to fix it."  

When it comes to kids, putting them on any sort of diet where weight loss is the goal might be the worse thing we can do for them.  We are setting them up for a life-time of disordered eating habits, body shame and weight stigma.  I know you'll probably say, "Our program works!"  Show me the data--not the 6-months,1 year or 2 years after data--show me the 5+ year data.  I am guessing that if we looked, we'd see a vast majority of former campers gain their weight back.  You might say, "But it worked for some." But what about the majority?  Should we really employ strategies that only help the minority of people and ignore the negative effects on the majority?  

I'm kindly going to reject your initial offer, but I'm giving you a counter offer.  If you are still willing to be a partner, I'm game, but I am going to be the one to supply you with the content, not the other way around.  I'll write articles for you on a weekly or monthly basis that will focus on ditching the diet mentality, stopping the focusing on weight loss, learning to love your body no matter what shape it is, and developing a positive fun relationship with food.  I'm sure I can inspire your readers and campers to develop body-positive behaviors that will lead to long-term health, without ever focusing on a scale or encouraging them to lose weight.

I'm going to leave you with this thought.  Instead of focusing on fixing the problem of, "childhood obesity," what if we start to adopt the philosophy: there is no problem that needs fixing!  That's right, we don't need to see "weight" as a something that needs to be fixed, worked on, or changed.

To your campers, my message is this: "We come in all different shapes and sizes.  Expecting that we should "fit" within one idealized body type is just wrong. Your body is beautiful just the way it is.   There are no bad foods and no bad bodies.  Moving your body is fun and is not a punishment for what you ate." 

I look forward to hearing your response to my proposal,
Aaron Flores, RDN


  1. I hope they respond... but I bet they won't.

    There is too much money to be made from convincing people that if they don't lose weight they will "die too early."

  2. I hope they respond... but I bet they won't.

    There is too much money to be made from convincing people that if they don't lose weight they will "die too early."

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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