The school year is over and for many parents of overweight kids the pressure is on to decide whether or not to enroll in weight loss camp. Do weight loss camps help or do they make things worse? It depends as much on the family and the child as it does on the camp. Done right, weight loss camp may jump start good habits that last a lifetime. Done wrong, camp may set the stage for years of failed diet attempts with feelings of failure and shame. The decision to take part in weight loss camp is a very important one.
Children, teens, and young adults of both genders can go to a weight loss camp, which can last from two to eight weeks and cost between $2000 and $8000. They group children by gender and age to learn about food, nutrition and cooking, athletic skills, and tools to support emotional health. Building positive self-esteem must be a goal of the program.
Menus must be devised by registered dietitians and wholesome communal meals and snacks should be served. In the best camps, the common menu offers around 1700 calories a day, but the camper actually decides how much to eat. Nutrition education helps the child to learn which foods are necessary and appropriate all of the time or just some of the time. Children should learn how and when to start and stop eating. The emphasis should always be on healthy eating, not on calories.
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