Fat Camp Is Over

Published January 1, 2003

Kids who went to “fat camp” during the summer will regain the pounds they lost unless the parents change the lifestyle of the whole family–and that means Mom and Dad included. Experts in childhood obesity say the secret to keeping the weight off is parents, not camp counselors.

Fat camp is a nice jump-start that needs follow-up at home. Parents can do this by setting a good example themselves. While at camp, kids are away from all those things that made them obese. But when they come back to the home environment, the bad habits return quickly and so does the fat. Parents must break the cycle.

Exercise is crucial to long-term weight loss and the activity has to fit the family. A child at camp may have gone hiking, but city kids can’t keep that up. Instead, families can ease into their own activities, like walking instead of driving everywhere.

Camps can teach better eating habits, but the habits won’t last if the at-home diet stays the same. Experts suggest that if you involve at least one parent there’s a good chance the child will level off at a healthy weight.

But bad habits go down hard, so change one at a time. Instead of snacking on cookies and chips three days a week, snack on fresh fruit.

Without such changes, the lost pounds will return.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.