SOURCE: CRC Health Group

CRC Health Group

January 17, 2012 10:53 ET

CRC Health Group's Wellspring Program Shares New Studies: Inspiration & Parental Perspiration Often Help Overweight Teens, but Not Always

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - Jan 17, 2012) - In two recently published studies related to childhood obesity and weight loss, researchers from Wellspring, the leading provider of treatment programs for overweight young people and a division of CRC Health Group, evaluated the success of participants in their summer weight loss camps more than one year after leaving camp, including the role parents played in this success. The results were mixed.

In the two follow-up studies, Dr. Daniel Kirschenbaum, a professor at Northwestern University and President of Wellspring, and his colleagues asked parents about their own efforts to use the Wellspring Plan's clear roadmap to lifestyle change (see The Wellspring Plan, D. Kirschenbaum - 2011, BenBella Books). Some of the basic tenets include eating a very low-fat diet, journaling food intake, taking at least 10,000 steps a day, and developing a "healthy obsession."

In both studies, the campers were overwhelmingly successful with losing weight. In the study published in the journal Child and Family Behavior Therapy in December 2011*, the teens in the highly successful group (called "Losers") averaged changing their percent overweight from 64% overweight to 26% overweight. The average Loser girl of average height reduced her weight from about 200 pounds to 150 pounds at the 1.5 year follow-up.

Parents responded to detailed surveys in both studies, as did campers in the second study, published in Clinical Obesity.**

The Wellspring researchers found that parents' changes in weight often mirrored their children's. Overweight parents whose children continued to lose weight following camp tended to lose weight and change their eating and exercising patterns far more than overweight parents of those who gained weight following camp ("Gainers"). For example, in the Child and Family Behavior Therapy study, 78% of initially overweight parents of Losers reported losing weight in the year after camp versus 40% of the Gainers' parents. None of the Losers' parents gained weight that year, but 30% of the Gainers' parents gained weight.

It seems that even with a short-term intervention (camp lasts only five weeks on average), some parents clearly found the dramatic changes in their children -- such as weight loss, self-confidence, and mood changes -- inspirational enough to work consistently to change their own lives.

Interestingly, in the Clinical Obesity study, Gainers' mothers who were overweight at the start of camp lost weight even though their children gained weight after camp. Despite this unusual finding and just like in the other study, Losers' mothers clearly followed the program espoused by Wellspring more closely than Gainers' mothers; for example, Losers' mothers self-monitored their eating more often and stocked the house with fewer high-fat foods than Gainers' mothers.

Dr. Kirschenbaum described some of his research team's conclusions noting that, "Parents can certainly make a huge difference in their children's lifestyles. They can become much more active than average parents and minimize fat consumption with a very low-fat diet. Doing these things with a positive attitude can help a lot, as well as finding 'lovable foods that love you back,' part of the Wellspring philosophy."

He went on: "However, our results also show that some teenagers will still struggle with excess weight even if their parents make major lifestyle changes at home. Parents certainly cannot make this process work 100 percent of the time for their kids. Teenagers control their own eating, activities, and attitudes to substantial degrees. The teens have to maximize and sustain their own motivation, a process facilitated, but not guaranteed by tremendous success during our programs and the accompanying cognitive-behavior therapy, and peer and staff support."

When asked about the role of immersion programs -- residential programs like Wellspring's camps and boarding schools -- Dr. Kirschenbaum added, "Change happens in families not just through perspiration or hard work; inspiration can also affect success. Overweight teens can seek inspiration in positive, supportive environments that include cognitive-behavior therapy. And, apparently, parents who attend the three-day workshops we provide for them at the end of camp can also get a healthy dose of long-lasting inspiration."

Wellspring is America's leading provider of weight-loss camps and residential treatment programs for overweight young people, families, and adults. Wellspring Camps and Wellspring Academies have helped thousands of overweight and obese individuals achieve dramatic weight loss, better fitness, and improved moods and self-confidence. With 15 programs nationwide and one in the UK, Wellspring programs have achieved among the best results ever reported in scientific journals for non-surgical weight loss programs for children, adolescents or adults. For more information, visit

Wellspring is a member of CRC Health Group, the most comprehensive network of specialized behavioral care services in the nation. CRC Health Group offers the largest array of personalized treatment options, allowing individuals, families, and professionals to choose the most appropriate treatment setting for their behavioral, addiction, weight management and therapeutic education needs. CRC is committed to making its services widely and easily available, while maintaining a passion for delivering advanced treatment. Since 1995, CRC programs have helped individuals and families reclaim and enrich their lives.

*Hinkle, K., Kirschenbaum, D., Pecora, K., & Germann, J. (2011). Parents may hold the keys to success in immersion treatment of adolescent obesity. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 33, 273-288.

**Kirschenbaum, D., Pecora, K., Raphaeli, T., & Germann, J. (2011). Do as I do? Prospects for parental participation in immersion treatment of adolescent obesity. Clinical Obesity, 1, 92-98.

Contact Information