Fighting the Nation's Childhood Obesity Crisis: Newly Released Data from the MEND Foundation's US Pediatric Obesity Programs Supports Effectiveness of Multi-Component Community Centered Programs

During September, National Childhood Obesity Month, Press Conferences That Highlight Community Acceptance Will Be Held at the YMCAs in Dallas, Houston and Austin, Texas

LOS ANGELES--()--The MEND 7–13 Program (www.mendfoundation.org) today announced statistically significant results from 2009/2010 US Community Implementation Data. This preliminary data is the first to come from a US population and is further evidence that programs achieve positive outcomes and are welcomed by communities. The MEND 7–13 Program is a free 10-week, after-school weight management course where overweight and obese children between 7 and 13 years old and their families learn how to develop behaviors that support sustainable healthy lifestyles. The MEND 7–13 Program is an evidence based and sustainable solution to the child obesity crisis. Earlier this year, results from a randomized controlled trial in the UK to evaluate the effectiveness of the MEND Program (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it!) were published in the US journal Obesity (www.nature.com/oby/journal/v18/n1s/abs/oby2009433a.html). By the end of 2010, MEND Programs in Texas, California, New York and Washington D.C. will have benefited over 1,000 participating families.

The 2010 data from 176 children aged between 7 and 13 years who attended a MEND 10-week program was highly statistically significant. The mean attendance rate was high at 82% with less than a 10% drop out rate. Almost 80% of children decreased their BMI after the 10-week program.

The new data reveals that children who attended the MEND Program saw improvements in the following areas:

  • Increased cardiovascular fitness
  • 6 hours more physical activity per week
  • A reduction in “screen” time and sedentary behaviors by approximately 4 hours per week
  • Marked improvements in body image and self-esteem
  • Improved eating behaviors and greater understanding of nutrition

Prior to the launch of MEND programs, a low-income and uninsured family in an underserved community, whose child has not yet developed apparent diseases associated with obesity such as Type 2 diabetes, had little chance of ever attending a potentially life-changing program. A January 2010 article published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Society of Pediatrics, confirmed the importance of programs such as MEND. In this article, The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent panel of non-Federal experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, composed of primary care providers, recently stated that all overweight and obese children – approximately 25 million across the nation - should be referred by their physicians to high-intensity family-based programs that combine nutrition counseling, behavior change strategies and physical activity. MEND offers these programs in collaboration with community partners such as the YMCA. MEND has research partnerships with eminent researchers from the University of Texas School of Public Health, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital, RTI International, and Duke University.

The MEND 7-13 Program has significant impact for those who are most needy and known statistically to be the most impacted by obesity. Roughly 30% of the children in the reported US data came from single parent homes and 46% were at or below the federal poverty line for 2010. Additionally, 46% of primary caregivers did not exceed high school level education. 33% of families obtained government sponsored health insurance, while 10% had no health insurance. Currently local communities are able to offer the MEND 7-13 programs free of charge to families thanks to private funding partnerships from organizations such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, The Houston Endowment, St. David’s Foundation, BG Americas and Global LNG, OSI Pharmaceuticals Foundation, Rose Hills Foundation, Scott & White Healthcare, United Way Texas and The General Mills Foundation.

Commenting on the MEND initiatives, Board Member Eduardo Sanchez, MD, Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas noted, “MEND is one of very few community-based healthy lifestyle programs with positive outcomes from a Randomized Controlled Trial, and their comprehensive, family-based approach to addressing childhood obesity is a promising model that should be funded, implemented and evaluated.”

Press Conferences will be held in Texas on August 27 in Dallas at the Town North YMCA; on September 1 at the West Orem YMCA in Houston; and on September 23 in Austin at the East Communities YMCA. MEND Programs begin again at multiple YMCA branches in all three Texas cities in conjunction with Back To School. During 2010/2011 the MEND Foundation will continue to forge relationships with the intention of initiating MEND 7-13 programs in Illinois, Colorado and North Carolina as well, and continuing programs in NY, Washington D.C., and California.

About MEND

MEND helps children, with the support of their families, reach and maintain a healthy weight. The MEND Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, was established in 2008. The MEND Foundation, an independent non-profit, runs the MEND 7–13 Program in collaboration with the YMCA and other community partners. MEND helps families change unhealthy attitudes about food and activity (Mind), keep physically active on a regular basis (Exercise), learn how to choose tasty, nutritious and affordable foods that are good for health (Nutrition), and take action to maintain a healthy lifestyle–for life (Do it!). The program is safe, based on 10 years of gold standard research and–most importantly–is fun for families!

Contacts

MEND Foundation
Teresa Earle, 310-529-7718
press@mendfoundation.org
or
Produce Communications
Fiona Posell, 310-776-0581
fiona@producecommunications.com

Release Summary

Fighting the Nation's Childhood Obesity Crisis: Newly Released Data from the MEND Foundation's US Pediatric Obesity Programs Supports Effectiveness of Multi-Component Community Centered Programs

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Contacts

MEND Foundation
Teresa Earle, 310-529-7718
press@mendfoundation.org
or
Produce Communications
Fiona Posell, 310-776-0581
fiona@producecommunications.com