A fat camp is a slang term for a type of program where overweight and obese children and teenagers are sent during the summer to lose weight. They are more gently referred to as a fitness and weight-loss camp. What sets apart a fat camp from any other ordinary camp is that it typically provides nutrition classes, weekly weigh-ins, and many more aerobic-based classes.
These camps provide weight-loss results of two to six pounds per week on average. The effectiveness of these summer camps varies widely and usually depends on the quality of the individual program and biochemistry of the attending campers.
More recent programs are scientifically-based and clinical. They help participants change in their behavior so weight loss will continue at home. Behavioral change is accomplished through training and cognitive-behavioral therapy, for which insurance reimbursement is possible.
More camps continue to open, however few have been around for more than a decade.
In pop culture
There have been a number of recent mainstream media pieces regarding fat camp.
- Several fictional television shows, such as The Simpsons and South Park, have an episode relating to fat camp.
- Several fat camps have been featured on reality television, including New Image Camp, Camp Shane, and Camp La Jolla.
- MTV has a documentary titled Fat Camp which follows five teens at an eight week summer weight loss camp.
- In 1995, a film called Heavyweights was released, starring Ben Stiller, about a summer adventure at fat camp.
- There are several books that deal with fat camp as a theme.
- There are a handful of music groups called Fat Camp.