Pediatric obesity has become an epidemic and as a result, obesity related disorders such as diabetes type II, are becoming more prevalent. In order to counteract this phenomenon, treatment programs have emerged across the country. Unfortunately, most individuals enrolled in those programs do not sustain weight loss. In an effort to improve outcome, Camp Jump Start, a camp for overweight children, has been established in southern Illinois. The camp’s mission is to achieve weight loss through substantive lifestyle changes. The owner/director is a registered nurse with specialized training in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. I had the privilege of visiting camp and meeting with the campers and staff. Among the beautiful grounds, campers displayed a great morale and were enjoying themselves. Above all, they appeared proud of themselves and their accomplishments. I am not surprised that these children have had successful weight loss, even after camp, and I anticipated that their lives will have been made better by this experience. Therefore, I do not hesitate to refer overweight children to attend Camp Jump Start.

Mark H. Fishbein, M.D.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Southern Illinois University Medical School
Department of Pediatrics

As a pediatric endocrinologist I am witnessing alarming statistics of adolescents diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. The sedentary lifestyles and fast food consumption are variables contributing to an obesity epidemic.

The principals of Camp Jump Start focus on a healthy lifestyle including appropriate caloric consumption and physical activity modifications. The four-eight week program empowers adolescents with the knowledge and skills to make appropriate life altering decisions.

I have reviewed the data obtained throughout the program and I am impressed with the ongoing success that the campers are experiencing following their departure from Camp Jump Start. I look forward to participating in potential research and positive outcomes affiliated with this program.

Ana Maria Arbeleaz, M.D.
Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Washington University School of Medicine

The camp provides children with a sense of belonging and improves their self-esteem and self-confidence. Historically, children lose between 10-50 pounds during the summer. Long-term follow-up includes the interactive website, which allows tracking of a child’s progress.

The camp also provides a much needed opportunity for university students to participate in experiential learning. Camp Jump Start assists with research projects in partnership with private and public universities; these kinds of partnerships are rare.

It is important to provide successful weight loss opportunities for obese children. These children are our future, and their lives are devastated by obesity, which has considerable medical, psychological, and economic consequences.

I encourage you to support the efforts of Camp Jump Start and the Living Well Foundation.

Samuel Klein, M.D.
William H. Danforth Professor of Medicine and
Nutritional Science
Director, Center for Human Nutrition

This letter is to inform you that the menu plan meets the nutritional needs of the population of children at Camp Jump Start for appropriate weight loss. The meals are balanced and supply adequate protein and micro-nutrients for these age groups.

Kelly Eiden, MS, RD, LDN

As a pediatric endocrine nurse practitioner at the National Institutes of Health I see many children with chronic medical conditions that are also affected by obesity. The prevalence of pediatric obesity has continued to increase over the past decade, and affects healthy children as well as children with chronic medical conditions. Recently, one of my patients with a chronic medical condition and morbid obesity returned to NIH for follow-up. I was astonished at how much weight she had lost over the past six months, after years of trying unsuccessfully to lose weight. What had happened in the prior six months that enabled her to successfully lose weight? She attended Camp Jump Start, founded by Jean Huelsing, for four weeks over the summer. I am writing to express my strong interest in seeing this resource continue to be available to children and families across the country.

As a pediatric endocrine nurse practitioner at NIH, I see many patients and I know firsthand the complications and difficulties the multiple diagnosis of a chronic illness and obesity brings to parents and families. This camp provides a safe and supportive environment to help those children develop effective strategies for healthy eating and exercise. The presence of trained medical and nursing staff allows parents to be reassured that their child will have appropriate care for their chronic medical conditions while attending camp. Perhaps the most remarkable change besides the weight loss that I observed in my patient was her positive attitude about herself as well as her approach to eating. This speaks volumes about how effective her camp experience was to enhance her self-esteem and to develop a healthy approach to eating and exercise.

I strongly encourage your support of this valuable asset.

Meg Keil, MS, CRNP
Director, Clinical Services, Pediatric Endocrinology Inter-Institiute Training Program
National Institutes of Health