Intervention efforts such as “fat camps” or boot camps may not be best for overweight or obese kids, according to Deborah J. Rhea, associate professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. The problem lies in the short duration of many of these programs, she says in an article published in the March 1 issue of Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. “Many of these camps are designed to get kids in shape in a 6- to 10-week period, but they are short-term fixes, just like diets.”

Rhea advocates for longer-duration physical education (PE) interventions that provide children with exercise and information. The way to improve waistlines in school-age kids, she suggests, is to offer PE classes that include regular lessons on nutrition and healthy eating habits; that teach the importance of long-term physical activity; that give kids a variety of physical activity choices; and that address how brain and physical power improve with exercise.