Are Fat Camps for Kids a Good Idea?

By Marsha Hudnall
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Summer is drawing to a close so the topic of today's post might seem a little late.  But as ABC continues its new show Huge about life at a teenage fat camp, I thought it would be a worthwhile discussion.  Oh, and I also wrote a long post about it yesterday on the blog for the International Food Information Council that I wanted to encourage you to read.

The gist of my article is that if they espouse the Biggest Loser type of approach pictured in Huge, fat camps for kids — or adults for that matter — aren't a good idea.  Cutting out all "fun" foods such as candy and pushing tortuous exercise in the interest of losing weight leads to yo-yo dieting, which can seriously compromise future health.  And isn't health the bottom line reason parents send their kids to fat camp?  Or am I being pollyanna-ish, and the truth is it's more about fitting in?  My answer to that is that fitting in is  a big part of health, but trying to make us all look the same isn't the answer to fitting in.  So regardless, health is at issue.

Because I was trying to control the length of my post on the IFIC blog, I didn't get into another discussion that I thought worthwhile.  It's on the topic of fitting in, too.  What I wanted to say was that fat camps single kids out.  Beyond the stigma associated with singling fat kids out, and assuming that every fat person is unhealthy, the fact is that all kids could benefit from a camp that focuses on health, not just fat kids.  Maybe most camps do.  After all, they get kids moving, out in fresh air, away from the television and computer. The food at the camps might leave some things to be desired but my experience with my kids is that they at least provide balanced meals, e.g, the kids aren’t snacking all day.  So why the need for a fat camp at all?  Let's just put all the kids together and provide the best fun and healthy experience possible!

Did you ever go to a fat camp as a kid?  Did it have the same approach to eating and exercise as portrayed in Huge?  If so, did it help you?

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