Kids Gain British Pounds

Childhood obesity in Britain is rising markedly, putting Great Britain on a pace to catch the world leader - the United States - in ten years.

The British blame America's eating habits imported into a lifestyle as sedentary as our own. And like America, obesity in Britain is mostly suffered by those least able to do anything about it.

"The prevalence of obesity is much [more prevalent] in less advantaged socio- economic classes than in the higher professional classes, like smoking and all other illnesses," explains Charles Brook, a pediatric endocrinologist.

Brook, who studies obesity in children, is as puzzled about the causes as anyone, but knows there is no magic solution.

"There is only one way to treat obesity, and that's to eat less," he says.

But that's much easier said than done, so for kids who need help - and who can afford the $3,000 dollar fee - there is another American import.

Britain's first weight loss camp opened this summer in Leeds and is modeled on U.S. camps. But directors say the American approach strives for short-term gain at the expense of long-term effectiveness.

"If weight loss is the main goal and not education, then the children go back home and gain the weight back because they go straight back into the environment they were in before," explains Paul Gately, the camp's technical director.

And that would undo any good done at the camp. So counselors stress to campers that they have to get their parents involved.

"I tried, but they say they can't, we're too busy," says one girl.

"Tell them it's a family thing, this change of lifestyle. That's what this summer is about," explains program director Pete MacKreth.

Whether the camp can achieve its goals remains to be seen.

"I do feel prettier and more confident," says camper Annie Fairweather.

Seventeen-year-old Annie chose a more traditional approach. Her 50-pound weight loss came with the help of a doctor. Starting a year ago, life as she knew it changed.

"My best friends talked me into wearing a bikini for the first time, because I've never dared before," says Annie.

With her new look she even relishes going back to school in September.