New study shows effectiveness of MEND program in prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity

Feb 01, 2010

Ground-breaking results from a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the MEND Program (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it!), a multi-component community-based childhood obesity intervention, are published today in the US journal Obesity. The results coincide with the launch of Michelle Obama's initiative to reduce childhood obesity announced in the State of the Union speech.

The independent study conducted by a team at University College London Institute of Child Health (ICH) demonstrates the success of the weight management program MEND for overweight and obese children and their families. The MEND Program supports recent international recommendations calling for programs to involve the whole family and include nutrition education, behavior modification and promotion of physical activity.

116 children aged between 8 and 12 years took part in the study, which involved attending a nine week MEND program, followed by the provision of 12 weeks of free family swimming between January 2005 and January 2007. All lost weight, lowered their BMI () and waist circumference, and improved their self esteem and physical activity levels. Their general health, including cardiovascular fitness, also improved.

Participants were randomly assigned to start the program immediately (intervention group), or receive the intervention six months later (control group). , BMI, , physical activity level, sedentary activities, cardiovascular fitness and self esteem were assessed at baseline, and again at six and 12 months. All measures improved at six months and were sustained at 12 months. A key strength of the MEND Program was its acceptability to families—all the children who started the program completed it.

The MEND Program is now being piloted and made available in the United States through the MEND Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission it is to serve low-income children in underserved communities through public-private partnerships.

Harry MacMillan, chief executive of MEND, said, "The MEND Program isn't a miracle pill for , but what this independent study does show is that child weight management programs that involve the whole family, like the MEND Program, are a scientifically-proven and sustainable solution to the child obesity crisis. People are starting to wake up to the fact that quick fixes don't work. These research findings prove that teaching children how to keep fit and eat healthily, like we do on the MEND Program, does work if done in the right way. With more funding, MEND could significantly reduce the number of overweight and obese children."

Professor Atul Singhal, pediatrician and head of clinical trials in the Childhood Nutrition Research Centre at University College London Institute of Child Health (ICH), said, "These results suggest that the MEND program helps overweight and obese children lose weight. They also show that child weight management programs have a positive effect on a child's health and so could help to address the rising obesity problem in children."

The epidemic increase in Western countries in childhood obesity in the past decades makes the need for effective treatment more and more urgent (1). In the United States the rise in is markedly higher (2) than in European countries. is associated with increased risk of a number of serious medical conditions (3,4) and may track into adulthood as long-term follow-up studies indicate (5). Higher childhood BMI is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease in adulthood (6), so early prevention and treatment in childhood is therefore crucial.

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 experts in primary care and prevention that systematically reviews the evidence of effectiveness and develops recommendations for clinical preventive services, recommends that clinicians screen children aged 6 years and older for obesity and offer them or refer them to comprehensive, intensive behavioral interventions to promote improvement in weight status.

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

More information:
-- www.nature.com/oby/journal/v18/n1s/abs/oby2009433a.html
-- www.mendcentral.org

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Group treatment may help children achieve healthier weights

Dec 18, 2008

Group-based treatment programs may effectively combat childhood obesity in rural communities, according to a new University of Florida study. Children who participated in one of two group programs — family-based or parent-only ...

Parents blind to their children's weight

Feb 05, 2007

Researchers with Deakin's Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research surveyed more than 1200 families to find out if parents had concerns about their children's weight and if they took any preventative action to ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 0

More news stories

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...