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Lessons learned: How summer camps reduce risk factors of childhood obesity

  • Author(s): George, Gretchen L
  • Kaiser, Lucia L
  • Schneider, Constance
  • et al.
Abstract

The purpose of this article is to present findings related to parent- and youth-reported outcomes from a nutrition- and fitness-themed summer camp targeting low-income families and to identify lessons learned in the implementation, evaluation and sustainability of a summer program. The Healthy Lifestyle Fitness Camp, offered through UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE), was a summer camp program for low-income youth at high risk for obesity. From 2009 to 2012, UCCE nutrition staff in Fresno County collaborated with the camp staff to provide a 6-week nutrition education program to the campers and their parents. Anthropometry and dietary data were collected from youth. Data about food preferences and availability were collected from youth and parents. As reported by parents in pre- to immediately post-camp surveys, Healthy Lifestyle Fitness campers consumed fruits and vegetables promoted at camp more often, relative to a comparison group of youth in a nearby non-nutrition themed camp. Summer programs may be an effective tool in the reduction of childhood obesity risk factors if implemented appropriately into the community and through the utilization of supportive partnerships such as UCCE and local parks and recreation departments.

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