Childhood obesity is a national epidemic with one-in-three children qualifying as overweight or obese. Some parents are choosing to send their children to weight loss camps for kids to give them an opportunity to lose weight, learn healthy eating habits, and develop successful exercise programs. Older children can attend weight loss camps that specialize in teenagers. This guide will provide parents with a number of successful alternative options to help children learn to live a healthy lifestyle and drop unwanted pounds without spending a summer at one of the different types of fat camps.
The Causes of Childhood Obesity
As childhood obesity becomes increasingly prevalent, it’s worth looking at the causes of it.
Genetic factors – The ability to retain fat was vital for our ancestors. This was especially important in parts of the world where the growing season was short and winter was long.
Lack of activity – Just 30 years ago, children were sent out of the house to play all afternoon after school. Those of us old enough can remember being told by our parents to not even come into the house until dinner was ready or the sun had gone down. “Come in when the streetlights turn on.” Today, children spend a great deal more time sitting in the house playing games and watching TV.
Unhealthy eating – In most modern convenience foods, there is a lot of sugar and fats. There are often high-calorie foods masquerading as a healthy food. Take, for example, yogurt in a tube or “granola” bars. It takes a great deal of control to make sure that the house only has truly healthy snacks in it.
Hormone imbalance – True hormone imbalances that cause obesity are extremely rare. If diet and exercise done right don’t work, then it’s time to see a doctor.
If genetics is a factor, if the family tends to be on the heavier side, that’s something that one can see simply by looking at a family photo. This is an inspiration to work together to keep the children’s weights down.
Going it Together
One of the very ways to help the children keep their weight down is for the whole family to work together to stay in shape.
Weight loss camps are great, but they often only represent a few weeks over the summer. If the whole family works together to help an obese child to keep their weight under control, it will be easier to stay in shape all your long.
Family hikes, sports, and activities can help an obese child feel less like an outsider and more like someone who is getting in shape and feeling great.
Great Weight Loss Camps for Kids
1) Weight Loss Boarding School
Weight loss camps for teens only last a few weeks or months during the summer, which doesn’t provide enough time for teens to develop new habits, lose a considerable amount of weight at a reasonable pace, or work through the emotional issues behind their overeating. Some teens might require the entire school year away from home at a boarding school that focuses on the weight loss so that they can have the time necessary to lower their weight and succeed at their health goals. Kids who are morbidly obese, have health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure, or need more time to drop the extra pounds can have amazing success at a boarding school that specializes in weight loss, especially if their home is not a healthy environment. Weight loss boarding school is a year-round program that focuses on physical health and helps children and teens develop self-esteem and gain valuable positive support from their classmates who are facing the same challenges.
2) Regular Summer Camp
At a normal summer camp that does not focus on weight, children spend all day in outdoor activities and eat healthy portions of food. If your child prefers weight loss camp alternatives, regular summer camps are a great option. All camps limit children’s access to sugar and encourage all kids and teens, fat or skinny, to participate in sports, group activities, and outdoor exercises. When overweight and obese children get to regular summer camp, they have the opportunity to develop healthy lifestyle choices without the stigma and embarrassment of being excluded from the regular camp in favor of attending a “special-needs” camp. Sports camps that focus on a single sport, such as hockey or sailing, can provide participants with extra exercise, confidence, and self-esteem that they might not get from weight loss camps for teens and kids. For kids who just need a push off the couch and onto the athletic field, a regular summer camp can be just the thing they need to get up and get moving.
3) Health Coach
Instead of sending children to weight loss camps for teens for the summer, parents can hire a health coach, nutritionist, or personal trainer to teach their children healthy eating habits and workouts while they stay at home. Make sure to find professionals who work with children on a regular basis to ensure they understand children’s growth needs as well as a healthy weight. The benefit of finding weight loss camp alternatives and getting professional help at home is that the child’s regular lifestyle and routine remain stable while the child learns to adapt to new healthy habits. Weight loss camps for teens can teach them how to lose weight at camp, but those new skills might not remain with them when they go home. Many children regain the weight they lost over the summer as soon as they get home, and having a support system in place during their normal routine can help the new, healthy behaviors become second nature.
4) Weight Watchers
If a summer at weight loss camps for kids is too expensive or not long enough to make lasting changes, parents can enroll their child in Weight Watchers, a weight loss program that has been proven to be more successful than any other program while focusing on slow, reasonable weight loss. Weight Watchers works with children online and in person to maintain their physical growth into a healthy weight and height. They provide special recommendations and programs for children and parents to follow for healthy meal planning and regular, consistent exercise. Families can work on the Weight Watchers program together to help support children and teens without disturbing their normal routine. Weight Watchers encourages healthy eating while still making sure children are growing and adding muscle and losing fat at a reasonable pace to maintain their health. It’s not a drastic diet, but a series of healthy eating choices that make a difference over an entire lifetime. Programs can be a great alternative to a weight loss camp. You can also read our guide to weight loss camps vs. weight loss programs for more information.
Some children and teens just have a few pounds to lose to reach a healthy weight, and weight loss camps for kids are too drastic a step for them. Enrolling them in athletic sports teams that practice and compete on a regular basis will teach kids the benefits of regular exercise, healthy competition, teamwork, and hand-eye coordination. Soccer, swimming, football, and other sports get kids off the couch and running on a regular basis and, combined with a healthy diet, can help eliminate the extra pounds. Participating in sports is a healthy activity for all children, especially for those who just need a little help to take off the last of their baby fat.
6) Family Camp
Weight loss camps for kids aren’t necessary if kids and teens are learning healthy eating and exercise habits at home. If the parents aren’t eating well and moving their bodies on a regular basis, the children won’t either. Make sure you are a good role model for your children by developing a regular exercise schedule and healthy meal plan for the entire family. Instead of weight loss camps for kids, go outside and play together, ride bikes together, and make walks in the park a regular part of your family routine, so kids will naturally develop healthy habits for life. A healthy home life is one of the best alternatives to weight loss camps for kids.
An alternative to consider: Camp Shane
Camp Shane is a unique weight loss camp that identifies itself as a summer camp to lose weight, not simply a “fat camp” or “boot camp”. Their camps are based at beautiful locations in Arizona, California, Georgia, New York, Texas & Wisconsin and have received national acclaim on TLC, MSNBC, and the Dr. Phil Show. With over 47 years of experience, they have developed an integrated program that includes exercise through various activities, healthy diet programs, and long-term wellness. While youth are there to lose weight, there is a strong emphasis to have fun and create meaningful friendships and experiences.
If you end up deciding that a “fat camp” is best for your kid or youth, have a look at our guide to the 4 best weight loss camps for kids.
As we mentioned early, the very best way to make sure that your child comes home thinner and stays that way is for the whole family to participate. Once your child comes home, start everyone out moving and eating better. Make sure that there are no bad foods in the house, even if you think that you’ve hidden them.
Helping your child lose weight is important for helping them live a healthier life going forward. Weight loss camp is an excellent place to stay a new lifetime of habits.
Have you ever been to camp with “average” size children? I would guess that’s a NO because the looks you get out in public or in school is nothing compared to how mean children are when in a sleepover setting. Taking out the variable that someone is different is better for someone who has problems with self esteem. Every person is different and yes people should ultimately decide for themselves.