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Effects of a Comprehensive Residential Summer Health and Fitness Camp for Older Children and Adolescents

Residential weight loss camps offer an opportunity for overweight and obese children to lose weight in a medically-safe, supervised, supportive environment.The purpose of this report is to describe short-term outcomes in 75 children participating in a 4-8 week residential weight loss camp for children and adolescents. The program consisted of structured and non-structured physical activities and group educational sessions covering nutrition, physical fitness and self-esteem. A diet plan of three balanced meals and two snacks is prepared under the supervision of a registered dietician.

For all campers, statistically significant (p<0.0001) reductions were observed for BMI, BMI z-scores, systolic blood pressure, body weight and 1-mile run times. Compared to campers in the 4-week session, campers in the 8-week session had greater reductions in BMI, BMI z-scores, body weight, and systolic blood pressure. Multivariate analysis revealed that gender was a significant predictor for reduction in body weight, BMI, BMI z-score all of which decreased more in males than in females. This report adds to the evidence that residential weight loss camps are highly effective in improving measures of health and fitness among overweight and obese children and adolescents. Further study is needed on the long term effects of such camps in terms of weight maintenance, behavior change and metabolic and health outcomes.
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