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Child Obesity and Weight Loss Camps
Program of Weight Reduction Camps for Children
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Child Obesity and Weight Loss Camps

Weight Loss Study Introduction
Child obesity is rapidly increasing with current estimates highlighting that one in three children are overweight and one in ten children are obese. US data shows that overweight children have significantly greater levels of: fasting insulin, fasting triglycerides, LDL, total cholesterol and hypertension compared to normal weight children (Freedman 1999). Given that 80 percent of obese children will become obese adults it is prudent to establish appropriate and successful intervention studies to tackle the problem of obesity in the pediatric population. In addition, significant psychological morbidity is also an outcome of pediatric obesity. At this time there is no program of health care currently available for this group. Of greater concern is the lack of successful outcomes of previous research treatment programs. The need for appropriate interventions is well acknowledged, however, most interventions are inappropriately designed for children as they are based on adult interventions and the understanding of child obesity is fraught with problems of definition and inappropriate treatments.

Weight Loss Study Methods
The Carnegie International Camp program was set up with three aims. Firstly, to develop a child centred program for the treatment of pediatric obesity using an evaluative multi-disciplinary approach. Secondly to investigate the accuracy of methods of assessment used for evaluating the outcome of intervention programs for overweight and obese children (i.e. body composition & activity monitoring). Finally, to develop an understanding of the factors that lead to both successful and unsuccessful weight management in this population. This will allow a model of good practice to be developed so the camp approach can be translated into a range of more appropriate community based initiatives, which in turn can address pediatric obesity in a more effective way. These aims have been pursued through a residential camp which provides control of the environment, whilst maintaining some degree of ecological validity. The camp uses skill-based fun-type physical activity, moderate calorific restriction and education. All children on the camp were assessed for body mass, stature, percent body fat, aerobic fitness, exercise motivation and self esteem pre and post the six-week intervention. Our qualitative research program seeks to identify and describe the factors that affect behaviour change within the family environment following the camp program. During the six-week camp program energy intake is based on an approximation of BMR (1300-3300kcal.day-1), children participate in six 1-hour physical activity sessions per day and four weekly educational sessions. The physical activity sessions promote choice of fun type skill based exercise in a range of activities.

Weight Loss Study Results
During the six-week program highly significant changes are noted in all health indicators measured. In addition, the qualitative research investigating the views of the participants and their families has been highly effective in informing our practice during each of the subsequent summer camp programs.

Weight Loss Study Conclusion
The camp program is highly effective in reducing risk factors for children's health with significant improvements in body mass, adiposity, aerobic fitness, and psychometric variables. Follow-up studies have shown successful management of percent body fat in approximately 71 percent of children who return to the camp each year. Research and understanding of the process the children and their families go through has been vital in continuing to improve the outcomes of the camp intervention, and the third aim of our work which is to help in the development of further community based initiatives.

Source: Gately P J & Cooke C B, School of Leisure & Sport, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, LS6 3QS, UK.

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