Teen Obesity

Changing the Face of How We Eat

When America was an agricultural society, huge meals were served midday (this meal was called “dinner” in the Farm Belt). Everyone came in from the fields and were served mountains of potatoes and bread, creamed vegetables, butter-fried meats and rich desserts like pie ala mode (pie bake-offs were a staple at country fairs.) If children were still in school (many were given time off to work the fields), they lugged these calorie-laden foods to school in their lunch pails. The kitchen was the “heart of the home” and the word “dieting” was never uttered. Yet not half as many people were obese as are today. What has changed?

Plowing, seeding, weeding, haying, and taking care of animals required hard physical work. Even school kids hauled buckets and mucked stables and sowed feed when they got home from school and, at school, recess meant energetic games of Red Rover and Kickball. Girls jumped rope for hours and boys wrestled each other constantly.

These days, however, kids spend most of their post-homework time on the computer or playing video games. Teens spend time on MySpace instead of expending their energies outside. Since few of us grow our own, food seems to appear magically on store shelves with no more effort required of us than to drive to the supermarket to get it.

So the new reality is we must educate ourselves about nutrition and plan for exercise must be arranged and followed–but how to get an overweight child or teen to start and stick to such a program?

The answer is weight loss camp. For a short investment of time –just several weeks in a summer otherwise filled with more video games and boredom –your child or teen can take the first steps to a healthier life and learn to change how they eat. By changing what they take into their body and how they move that body every day, your child will begin taking control of their life.

At camp, outdoor activities are encouraged and everyone gets to participate–not just a select few. Team sports become fun with the encouragement and support of fellow campers and the trained staff, and new sports can be tried without risk of embarrassment that comes with joining in an activity where everyone is fit and your child is not yet so. Even singular activities like swimming, hiking or dancing become more inviting when a kid knows they will not only feel a sense of accomplishment, but will get some applause from other campers for having achieved the goal.

Weight loss camp also teaches the obese child or teen how to make good choices in foods to eat. They are taught about nutrition and calorie intake, how to read a label in a supermarket, how to cook healthy food, how “real” food –as opposed to the empty calories and chemical additives of processed food–tastes and how such choices affect their health. No one ever goes hungry at weight-loss camp, but the proper food choices paired with the increase in physical activity will result in a before and after weight loss your child or teen will see and feel. Their energy will be increased, they will sleep better and their attitude will change. Self-image will improve and exercise–once a dirty word–will come to mean “fun”. The healthy habits they learn (and the friends they meet) will build a foundation for a lifetime of good health.