Psychosocial outcomes in a weight loss camp for overweight youth.


Journal Article (Academic article)

Objective. There is good evidence that youth attending weight loss camps in the UK and US are successful at achieving weight loss. Limited research suggests improvement in body image and self-esteem as well. This study evaluated changes in eight psychosocial variables following participation in a weight loss camp and examined the role of gender, age, length of stay, and body mass index (BMI) in these changes. Methods. This was an observational and self-report study of 130 participants (mean age=12.8; mean BMI=33.5; 70% female; 77% Caucasian). The program consisted of an 1 800 kcal/day diet, daily supervised physical activities, cooking/nutrition classes, and weekly psycho-educational/support groups led by psychology staff. Participants completed measures of anti-fat attitudes, values (e.g., value placed on appearance, athletic ability, popularity), body- and self-esteem, weight- and health-related quality of life, self-efficacy, and depressive symptoms. Results. Participants experienced significant BMI reduction (average decrease of 7.5 kg [standard deviation, SD=4.2] and 2.9 BMI points [SD=1.4]). Participants also exhibited significant improvements in body esteem, self-esteem, self-efficacy, generic and weight-related quality of life, anti-fat attitudes, and the importance placed on appearance. Changes in self-efficacy, physical functioning and social functioning remained significant even after adjusting for initial zBMI, BMI change, and length of stay. Gender differences were found on changes in self-efficacy, depressive symptoms, and social functioning. Conclusion. Participation in weight loss programs in a group setting, such as a camp, may have added benefit beyond BMI reduction. Greater attention to changes in psychosocial variables may be warranted when designing such programs for youth.

Cited Authors

  • Quinlan, NP; Kolotkin, RL; Fuemmeler, BF; Costanzo, PR

Published Date

  • December 2008

Published In

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 9

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1747-7174