06 December 2016

American Style ‘Boot Camps’ to be Introduced in the UK to tackle Obesity

As the world faces an obesity crisis, food addiction is consequently on the rise, which also has a negative impact on society. Many people do not understand how an individual could become addicted to food. However, certain foods that are highly palatable, such as those enriched with salt, fats and sugar, trigger parts of the brain that produce feelings of intense pleasure. An individual can begin to crave this feeling and therefore will overeat, in many cases developing a food addiction. Many experts are concerned about the number of obese children in the UK, so they have been trying to come up with ideas of how to tackle this issue; one suggestion is boot camps.

Quick Fix

As obesity is rising, not just here in the UK but also in countries all over the world, world leaders are looking at ways to minimise the issue. A summer boot camp is just one of the most recent suggestions in combating Scotland’s childhood obesity epidemic. A report delivered to the Scottish Parliament’s health and social care enquiry explained that NHS Health Scotland feels that a ‘two-to-six-week’ state-funded camp for obese children could be the answer.

During their time at the camp, the children would be educated on nutrition and encouraged to partake in physical activity. The report also indicates that a ‘portfolio of preventative measures’ like ‘increased efforts from industry and civil society’ would benefit. Nevertheless, many similar facilities, often nicknamed ‘fat camps’ in America, have been criticised for providing a short-term yet painfully expensive ‘quick fix’ to an issue that should be tackled at home.

Counselling and Education

Generally, these boot camps run for around six weeks over the summer period, and children live and work with their peers at locations which are often far from home. The average cost to attend a camp in America would be around $1000 per week. On a standard day, the children would usually be woken up early to take part in a host of physical activities; some being high-intensity workouts such as tennis, aerobics and running while others include drama, crafts and cookery classes. The children would consume roughly 1,500 calories per day and are only permitted to eat at certain times while in the camp.

Many companies provide follow-up programmes to keep an eye on the child’s weight loss; however, statistics are seriously lacking. Some of these camps offer specific treatments for food addiction, binge eating disorder, diabetes, and childhood obesity; this includes counselling and education.

Skills for Later Life

In America, people were increasingly enrolling their children to boot camps by 2005, with four new camps being introduced in 2004 alone. The most sought out camps in America are the ones that offer a less strict approach to weight loss, such as New Image Camps, Camp Shane, Camp Jump Start and Wellspring Camps (USA and UK). The first weight loss camp to be funded by the NHS in the UK was the Carnegie International Camp, which was opened in 2008 by health lecturer Paul Gately near Leeds.

The children here were educated on nutrition, healthier food choices and portion sizes, and were also given a balanced diet. They took part in activities such as discos and day trips as well as performing arts and photography.

In the USA, obesity affects many children from families with little income, yet the treatments available for them, i.e. boot camps, come at unaffordable, for their family, pricing. Many parents hope that their children will make friends at these boot camps as they will be with others that have suffered the same fate as them in regards to bullying etc.; some individuals will continue to attend year on year until they reach their 20s. The American Camping Association said that although the overall experience may not have been about ‘losing the weight specifically’, these children were being taught skills that they could use ‘20 years down the road’.

Downward Spiral

Here in the UK, these boot camps are highly sought out by parents. The Carnegie International Camp saw so much popularity in 2010 that despite it only being able to accommodate 150 children, there were 1,500 applications. Earlier this year, 41-year old Beverly Deakin from Rotherham sent her daughter to a weight loss camp twice, which was funded by Rotherham City Council, as she was unable to motivate her daughter to make healthier choices. She explained that her own weight had ‘fluctuated dramatically’ and that her daughter, Destiny, began comfort eating after the death of her grandmother, which then sent her into a downward spiral of obesity and depression.

Comfortable, Safe Environment

If you are concerned that your child may be suffering from a food addiction, like many other children in the UK, contact us here at UKAT. We can offer advice and information about clinics around the UK that specialise in treating this addiction in a safe and comfortable environment. If you require any further information or have any general enquiries, then do not hesitate to contact us today.

Source: ‘Fat camp’: Could American weight loss regime help young Scots? (STV)

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