It’s no secret that obesity among young people is a growing problem. Unfortunately, children can have some of the same issues with losing weight that hamper adults from getting their weight back into a reasonable range. In the last decade, the concept of weight loss camps for children have become somewhat popular. While this solution does have a number of benefits, parents and caregivers should be mindful that there might also be some drawbacks with this approach to losing weight.
Without a doubt, there are many potential advantages associated with weight loss camps for children. One of the most important is that kids are in an environment where their peers are much less likely to make fun of them or use verbiage that makes them feel inferior. Since all the children attending the camp have a weight issue of some degree, the general mood is likely to be more supportive than in other situations, such as school.
Another important benefit of weight loss camps for kids is that it is possible to teach the children responsible the basics of responsible eating. For many children, their first introduction into the rich variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as enjoying meats that are not fried, or served on a bun with a side order of fries. As the kids learn to enjoy a broader range of foods, they get away from craving food that is high in fats and simple carbohydrates, and can learn to grab for other types of snacks when the urge strikes.
A third benefit to weight loss camps is the professional counseling and supervision that takes place. In the best camps, the ratio of counselors and supervising adults is kept within a range that ensures all the children have someone to mentor them as they seek to lose excess weight and become healthy. The mentoring comes in the form of education, encouragement, and learning social skills that allow each child to gain confidence. In some cases, children who have been obese for much of their lives may learn how to swim or participate in sports, something that was not possible before. Under the best of circumstances, weight loss camps created for kids can open a whole new world to the campers, and equip them with skills that will serve them well all their lives.
While all this sounds great, there are also some potential downsides associated with weight loss camps for children. The controlled environment can often make it easy to lose weight at camp, but may or may not provide the child with enough will power to resist temptation once he or she is back in the real world. As a result, the weight is packed back on quickly, a fact that serves to lower the child’s self-image even more.
Another potential drawback is that some weight loss camps engage in somewhat extreme measures. Unfortunately, not all camps exist in areas where there is some type of governmental regulation of how the camp is structured and what qualifications counselors and others working at the facility must possess. This can lead to a situation where the campers are not provided with the tools they need in order to lose weight. Instead, they pick up additional bad habits that may lead to weight loss at first, but ultimately lead to the development of other physical and emotional problems that may take years to resolve.
Before signing up a child for any weight loss camping program, it is imperative that parents investigate the facility thoroughly. Along with researching the background of the program, parents should meet and talk with staff, contact parents who have children who went through the program, and in general make sure the environment is a good one for their children. If anything seems to be missing or is out of line in any way, looking for a different program or working with a dietician to come up with a safe weight loss regimen at home would be a better approach.