Research boost for fat-buster camp

March 31, 2000

Academics behind Britain's only weight-loss camp for children are to present their research to the House of Commons in an attempt to increase government support for the problems caused by obesity.

Paul Gately, director of Leeds Metropolitan University's Carnegie International Camp, who is completing a PhD study into obesity in children there, said that the problems of overweight adults and children were neglected.

"If you have some obscure disease, you can go to hospital and someone will help you. But no one deals with obesity, particularly in children, because it is not an acceptable problem."

Last summer's camp caused controversy when it emerged that the six-week residential programme would cost parents about Pounds 1,950.

"We would cut out the cost if we could, but unfortunately the National Health Service doesn't help us with funding," Mr Gately said. "We came in for a lot of stick last summer and were not given an opportunity to answer back. But our results show that the camp has caused dramatic improvements." The camp will be run again this summer.

Campers lost an average of four pounds each per week and increased their fitness levels by 20 per cent. Independent research compiled by Leeds University showed that the children, aged between 11 and 17, benefited psychologically as well as physically.

"Self-esteem had improved by the end of the camp, including their perceptions of athletic competence and physical appearance. They were also less worried about their weight, figure and looks," Mr Gately added.

Children were taught to lose weight, eat healthily and also how to fit sport into their daily lives.

The camp has recently been awarded a Pounds 38,000 research grant from the National Heart Research Fund to monitor the progress of the campers after they return home.

"As well as fuelling heart disease and other medical conditions, obesity can cause psychological distress and lead to discrimination. We now have an important chance to raise the profile of the problem," Mr Gately said.

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