Synopsis by Hal Erickson
There was a touch of the crusader in basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal as he assumed the hosting and coproducing duties for this limited-run ABC reality series. Upset over the nationwide cutback in school physical education programs, to say nothing of the inadequate nutritional standard in many school cafeterias, "Shaq" took it on himself to whip six overweight Florida preteens into shape by combining a tough regimen with compassion and understanding. Selected by their parents for this project, the six youngsters (four boys, two girls) were put through their athletic paces by Shaq's former college coach Dale Brown, while master chef Tyler Florence whipped up the well-balanced meals which provided a maximum of nourishment and a minimum of empty calories. The kids' progress, both emotionally and healthwise, was carefully monitored by Dr. William I. Muinos. Though roundly criticized by those who felt that the six children were being badgered and berated into improving themselves (the kids themselves didn't seem to mind), the six-week series was quite popular with the general audience. Inspired by the 2006 British series Unfit Kids, Shaq's Big Challenge premiered June 26, 2007.