Are Weight Loss Camps Effective?

Many of our readers who are looking for new ways to lose weight have written in and asked, “Are weight loss camps effective?” This is a difficult question to answer, but we here at always love a challenge.

Modern Weight Loss Camps

Formerly known as fat camps, the modern weight loss camps experienced a rise in popularity in the 1980s. As obesity continues to climb in many nations, new summer weight loss camps are cropping up every year. While many are adult weight loss camps, other facilities exist which specialize in overweight teens and pre-teens.

Weight loss camps usually combine an exercise regimen with a low calorie diet to help their clients lose weight. Many visitors to a weight loss camp also find it encouraging to be surrounded by others in the same situation.

Camp Statistics

Are weight loss camps effective? They are if you believe the statistics put out by the camps. According to Hilton Head Health, guests staying two weeks lose an average of 7 to 14 pounds, and 68 percent of guests maintain or improve that weight. Wellspring Camps boasts a loss of 4.25 pounds per week, with 70 percent keeping the weight off.

These statistics sound pretty impressive, but one has to wonder how accurate they are? I’m not saying that the camps are lying, but it certainly wouldn’t be good for business to print statistics showing that less than 50% of clients keep their weight off.

Boot Camps


Camps which specialize in helping clients lose lots of weight in a short period of time may be the least effective. They simply focus on a high-intensity workout program to quickly burn calories, but most fail to address emotional and psychological issues. There’s also the danger of injury, as most obese individuals are not used to the high-impact workouts stressed by a boot camp.

Qualities Of A Good Weight Loss Camp

Before you even think about attending a weight loss camp, make sure they emphasize the following:

  • Teach clients to enjoy physical activity. This is key to maintaining a long-term exercise program.
  • Changing Habits. Many obese children, for example, tend to watch more television and play more video games. These habits need to be changed, and changing habits may be more important than dieting.
  • Learn about nutrition. Proper nutrition can be key to losing weight.
  • Losing weight shouldn’t be a chore. The best weight loss camps make losing weight fun. If it’s a terrible experience, there’s little chance the client will stick to the program when they get back home.
  • Increase self-esteem. Many obese people enter into a downward spiral of depression and overeating. Building self-esteem helps to counter this destructive behavior.
  • Stress management. Dealing with emotional issues is a key part of losing weight.
  • Qualified staff. A good weight loss camp should have qualified nutritionists, dietitians and psychologists on staff.
  • Follow-up support. It’s important that the weight loss camp has follow-up support available.

The Bottom Line

So are weight loss camps effective? Ultimately, it all depends upon the individual. If a visitor to a weight loss camp continues with proper diet and exercise after their stay, there’s a very high chance that they will maintain their weight or even lose more. If, however, they sit on the sofa and eat cookies all day, you can bet that they’re going to pile on the pounds.

The major benefit to a weight loss camp is that it acts as a sort of a starting over point. Clients can step away from their daily lives for a week or two and begin the challenging process of weight loss. They’ll learn the proper way to diet through hands-on experience, and they’ll also be surrounded by other people in the same situation.

If you’re overweight and can afford it, a summer weight loss camp is an ideal option. Just remember that weight loss is a long-term process. As the old saying goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.”