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Camp could be the solution to summer weight gain



A study released by Ohio State and Indiana University sociology professors shows that children gain more weight over the summer months than during the school year. Those who conducted the study suggest that children gain extra weight due to the lack of structure during the summer months.

"Our general finding-that kids do better in a structured environment with scheduled exercise and limited opportunities to eat-is consistent with the idea that camp can help restrain summer weight gain," said Paul von Hippel, Ohio State University sociology professor and lead author of the study. "Speaking from my own experience, I was a chubby kid until I lost ten pounds the first year that my mother sent me to camp."

Camps continue to play a vital role in turning back this national trend. Camps are important partners for parents and children who want to make positive changes that keep kids active and eating healthy all year long.

Camps and their staffs make sure that camp programs offer opportunities for healthy and active living. If your children begin to change some of their food and activity habits at camp, they might be able to transfer some of these behaviors when they return home.

Many camps look for innovative, fun, tasty ways to provide healthy choices and decision-making skills to their campers. The following list includes some "tried-and-true" techniques found at camps. Camps:

* Teach children to alter food preferences by providing them with a variety of food choices.

* Offer taste tests and expose children to new foods.

* Encourage eating breakfast.

* Offer new exercise/activity programs.

* Reduce "fast food" and junk food for snacks and side dishes (chips, cookies, candy, etc.); provide healthy options at the snack bar or camp store.

* Educate children about healthy eating and knowing when to stop eating.

Camps play a vital role in contributing to lifelong patterns of exercise and excellent nutrition. Camp is a great place to offer good food, great activities, a positive environment, a safe and secure location, and most of all, fun.

The American Camp Association works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-accredited camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit www.ACAcamps.org.