Summer Camp Helps Curb Summer Weight Gain in Children
MARTINSVILLE, IN (March 1, 2007) —A recently-released study by Indiana University and Ohio State researchers found that children gain more weight over the summer than during the school year. A child's summer camp experience can provide the structure and activity needed to keep kids healthy year-round.
Ohio State University sociology professor and lead author of the study Paul von Hippel said, "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."
The American Camp Association® (ACA) president Ann Sheets agrees, stating that it is more important than ever for our youth to be physically active when they are not in school.
"The camp environment is supportive of healthy lifestyles," Sheets said. "Camp includes lots of physical activity, good nutritional choices, and a set sleep schedule, all of which play a role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing childhood obesity."
For the study, researchers studied the growth rates of the body-mass indexes of 5,380 kindergartners and first-graders. The university sociologists discovered that the children's BMIs increased on average more than twice as much during summer break compared with the school year. Once kids were back in school, however, the monthly growth rate of their BMIs fell, the researchers found.
According to research conducted by ACA, 63 percent of children who learn new activities at camp tend to continue engaging in these activities after they return home. "These findings suggest that camp could actually help children become more active, and therefore healthier," Sheets said.
Camps, because they are rooted in experiential learning, provide opportunities for children to exercise and stay physically fit that are not available in school—and are certainly not available watching TV or playing video games, according to Sheets.
Brian Powell, a coauthor of the study and sociology professor at Indiana University, said, "Our study indicates that children's BMI gain is much greater during the summer than during the school year, so if we are concerned about children's health, we must find ways to enable children to participate in the types of activities in the summer that promote good health."
ACA spokespersons are available for interviews on this topic and a wide range of topics concerning the camp experience.
Please contact Public Relations at pr@ACAcamps.org  or 765.349.3317 to arrange for an interview with an ACA spokesperson.
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 .