For morbidly obese children and teenagers, the residential treatment center might seem like an extreme solution, but it looks very attractive compared to the other extreme solution, bariatric surgery. An in-patient detox program is less expensive than surgery, not only in terms of money, but in terms of life-changing side effects.
Ideally, the reputation of a residential treatment facility ought to rest upon the ability of its graduates to sustain their weight loss results over the years. Of course, if the place is new or relatively new, statistics will not have had time to accumulate yet. These institutions tend to be relatively small, so any research on the patients’ post-program completion behavior and well-being is necessarily based on small numbers. Among the graduates, some inevitably are lost to the possibility of questioning in later years, because that’s just how life is.
One thing that everyone seems to agree on is the need for follow-up counseling. A recovering food addict can’t just be turned loose in the same environment and forgotten about. Hopefully, the person will learn coping skills in the residential program and be committed to continuing on with a 12-step program even after release. A person coming out of rehab can hang up a poster that says, “This is the first day of the rest of your life,” and be inspired, but the poster needs a backup: a solid program of how to get through that life without relapsing.
Weight loss camps are similar to residential treatment programs, in that the child is removed from the obesogenic environment. There are also differences, the main one being that kids at fat camp aren’t considered patients, and camp programs are oriented more toward exercise and healthy eating than toward psychotherapy or 12-step.
Let’s check in with the Weigh2Rock kids, the bold pioneers who believe the truth will make them free. Every day, scads of them communicate with each other via the website Dr. Pretlow has set up for this purpose. Several years ago, before all the TV coverage of the subject, one of the Weigh2Rock polls asked the kids, “What do you think about going to a weight loss camp, if you could afford it?”
Of the kids who responded, 54% agreed with the statement, “I’d go to a weight loss camp, lose weight, and keep it off.” Nineteen percent were willing, but guessed they would probably gain the weight back. And 27% said they wouldn’t go, even if they could afford it.
Every Weigh2Rock poll offers the opportunity to leave comments, too. Some comments were negative:
I wouldn’t because I would feel bad because I’m being treated like I’m a fat looser.
…cause i dont need to even if i am 58 pounds overweight. ill just gain it back!!!!!!! duuuuuuh
Some kids had issues other than money:
I believe that different bodies require different weightloss plans in order for them to be permanent. I don’t think a weight loss camp would see to that.
i wish i could go to a weight loss camp. But I don’t think my parents would let me. My dad won’t even let me do some diets because he doesn’t think I need it…
And some were positive:
i need to leave home for a while, i haven’t been out for six years i usually go home, sholl, and church, and then home,school and home again, and is boring. with a camp i think i’ll have lots of experiences, and learn alot of things, and will keep my mind of food, because i eat when i’m bored.
I Have been to one and it has really paid off. I go to one at least every summer. They are really fun. It is just like a regular camp. Except you loose weight. I was so happy. I was at the camp for three months. Now i am old enough to be a canslour. I was one and i loved seeing how happy the kids got when they saw they were loosing weigt and having fun at the same time.
We will be talking more about weight loss camps.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!