Extension News

Summer Camp Can Help Keep Weight Off Kids

child climbs rope upside down

3/12/2007

AMES, Iowa  -- Summer camp provides structure and activity, both of which help kids maintain a healthy weight, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Summer often increases the amount of unstructured time children enjoy. But with the advent of electronic games and television, many kids opt for sedentary activity rather than physical exercise. This often leads to excessive snacking, the CDC reports.

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, according to the CDC. More than 18 percent of U.S. youth are overweight, and another 15 percent are at risk of becoming overweight. Rates of overweight children have increased 45 percent in the last decade and have increased three-fold since 1980.

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily for children.

 “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,” stated Ann Sheets, president of the American Camp Association (ACA).

“Get children into an active lifestyle at the Iowa 4-H Center,” suggested Traci Haselhuhn, camp program coordinator. Kids can enjoy swimming, creek walks, water games, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, basketball, rappelling and high ropes.

“Activities such as archery, rock climbing or air rifles require far more physical exertion than watching TV,” Haselhuhn said.  “And hands-on crafts, cooking meals over a campfire and fishing give more physical exercise than pushing video game buttons.”

According to research conducted by ACA, 63 percent of children who learn new activities at camp tend to continue these activities after they return home.

Parents can find ways on-line to foster physical activity at home. Go to the ISU Extension Web site at “Food for Fitness and Fun” (www.extension.iastate.edu/food/activities/index.htm) or at “Nutrition, Health and Exercise”  (www.extension.iastate.edu/food/nutrition/index.htm).
 
In addition, a “Food and Fitness Craze” brochure includes ways to get groups up and moving. Ask for PM 1944b at a local county office of ISU Extension or order it on-line at the publications store: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/store/

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Contacts :
Traci Haselhuhn, Iowa 4-H Center program coordinator, (515) 795-3338, tracidh@iastate.edu
Carol Ouverson, Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-9640, couverso@iastate.edu