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Most of us think of the holiday season, from Thanksgiving through New Years, as the riskiest time of the year for weight gain. We envision the high-fat foods, the omnipresent parties, and the cold dark days and long nights as dieter’s dilemmas. Research does show that weight gained during the holidays tends to stay with us for a long time. However, people usually do not gain as much weight over the holidays as popular lore suggests. In a recent study, researchers from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development1 found that on average people only gained about a pound during the holidays. Those who did gain a bit more weight than average, however, tended to keep on that extra weight for the entire year.

Most of us also believe that summertime promotes weight loss, particularly among young people. After all, with no school to attend, time for sitting and doing homework (sedentary activities) should decrease; time for running and playing should increase. The healthiest foods shine most brightly at this time of year. They burst from the shelves and farmer’s markets, looking and tasting their best and costing the least during the summer. Plums, berries, tomatoes, and corn paint rainbows on the shelves, each one tasting sweeter and fresher than the next.

So weight should come down especially fast and easy for overweight kids during these long warm days of summer, right? As we described in a recent Wellspring Newsletter, a large scale study conducted by Dr. Paul von Hippel and his colleagues at the Ohio State University showed just the opposite effect.2 Apparently, extra time and looser structures during the summer provides kids with more time for computers, digital entertainment and snacking – and they often gain more weight during the summer than at any other time of the year.

Summertime: A Time for Parents to Take Action

Over the past several years, we’ve noticed that most parents enroll their children in our summer programs in the final weeks of May or even early June. We know many factors can make it challenging to decide to enroll children in Wellspring Camps. We know it’s a significant investment in your child’s future – one that is especially difficult to make if your child is resisting change – Newton’s first law of physics (inertia) applies to behavior, as well. We all resist doing something different; something unknown provokes anxiety. A weight loss camp might seem foreboding when images of potential failure (again) and deprivation take hold. Unfortunately, doing what comes easiest doesn’t help overweight children lose weight or get healthier and stronger. Participating in an incredibly fun and remarkably productive educational and therapeutic summer camp – can promote a lifetime of positive changes.

The time to act is now, before all camps are full for Summer 2008.

If your child is resisting this wonderful opportunity, consider trying the following:

  • Watch the Wellspring DVD together (just go online to to view it if you don’t have a copy or call us at 1.866.277.0145 and we’ll send along a DVD right away).
  • Call us at 1.866.277.0145 and we’ll connect you with an alumni family from your area. We have hundreds of alumni families who are eager to help other families take this remarkably important step. Your son or daughter can talk to someone who felt just as they did last year and made the difficult choice to try something different to significantly change their life for the better.
  • Send us an email at and request that one of our camp directors or clinical directors give you or your child a call to talk over life at camp and help make the point of the value of giving this opportunity a chance.
  • Call or send an email to discuss ways to make this opportunity as affordable as possible, such as insurance reimbursement or student loans.

1New England J. of Medicine. 2000;342:861-7.
2American J of Public Health. 2007;97:696-702.