Adolescence is difficult enough without the added pressure of being overweight. During a time in life when insecurities abound, looking in the mirror at a larger-than-average body creates a backdrop for depression and the development of eating disorders. Weight-loss camps for teenagers exist nationwide. Understanding their structure and mission will help you decide if it is the right solution for your overweight teenager.
Why It’s Important
Overweight teenagers have an increased risk of a lifetime battle with obesity, according to the MayoClinic.com. The health issues for overweight teens include hypertension, diabetes and increased risk for certain cancers. In addition to the physical issues surrounding being an overweight teenager, there are also emotional and social issues to consider. Adolescence is a time of self-discovery. It is also a time in which others can be especially cruel and quick to criticize peers who are overweight. This can lead to the overweight teenager developing depression, self-destructive habits and eating disorders.
Parents of overweight teens face a dilemma. On the one hand, it is important for their child to lose the excess pounds, however, at the same time, the teenager depends on his parents for support and guidance. Teenagers are often hyper-sensitive to any perceived criticism from their parents. The nature of teenage social development in conjunction with parental concern about the weight can lead to a family tug of war.
How They Help
Weight-loss camps provide a safe and secure environment for the teenager to face her weight problem and begin getting control over it. She doesn’t have to be around her regular school peers, her parents or her siblings while she begins working on her self-esteem, nutritional studies and exercise. Weight loss camps remove her from her current environment and give her the time and support she needs to focus her energy on getting healthy again.
Choosing the One
Choosing the right camp is important. Your teenager will reside there for the duration and, while it will be a challenge to begin a new way of viewing food and exercise, you also want him to be comfortable with the other campers and the staff members. Different camps offer different activities and environments. Choose a camp that dovetails with your child’s interests. A teenager who is deathly afraid of the dark will fare better in a camp with a spa-like atmosphere, than in a group of tents and a nightly bonfire. A teenager who loves the outdoors will enjoy a camp that incorporates nature walks to its exercise program. In 2011, camps typically cost several thousand dollars a week.
Do They Work?
Weight-loss camps for teenagers have proven to be successful for many teenagers that participate, according to the “International Journal of Pediatric Obesity.” The camps not only kick-start the teens’ weight loss efforts and teach them about nutrition, but they also promote a healthy self-esteem and problem-solving skills. While your teen will only start the work at camp, a good camp will arm him with the skills to maintain the program once he arrives home.