ST. LOUIS, May 6 (UPI) — A U.S. study suggests obese children attending summer weight-loss camps enjoy better physical fitness as a result of a sense of belonging and shared goals.
St. Louis University researchers, led by Dr. Nadim Kanafani, said they found residential summer weight-loss camps markedly improved obese children’s weight, body mass index, physical fitness and blood pressure.
“Weight loss is like beating addiction, you have to redirect the social environment to be successful,” said Kanafani, an assistant professor of pediatrics. “When a child can interact with others struggling with the same problem it helps sustain their weight-loss effort, and they are more likely to improve both physically and psychologically.”
He said obese children struggle with their body’s awkwardness in running, jumping and playing, which causes them to withdraw from such physical activities. But he said that can be reversed when obese children are placed together to focus on losing weight and improving physical fitness.
“When kids support one another good things happen,” said Kanafani. “These peer-supported groups spark positive changes in motivation, eating behavior and body image.”
The research appears in the April edition of the journal Pediatrics.
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