A study published today in the journal Obesity proves the success of the weight management programme MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition... Do It!) for overweight and obese children.
Participants in the study 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.
The independent study, conducted by a team at University College London Institute of Child Health (ICH), is the first randomised controlled trial in the UK to investigate the benefits of a community-based child weight management programme.
116 children aged between eight and 12 years took part in the study, which involved attending a nine week MEND programme, followed by the provision of 12-weeks of free family swimming between January 2005 and January 2007. Participants were randomly assigned to start the programme immediately (intervention group), or receive the intervention six months later (control group).
Waist circumference, BMI, body composition, 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.
The MEND Programme is a free 10-week, after-school weight management course where overweight and obese children and their families learn how eat healthily and enjoy physical activity. Fifteen thousand families have benefitted from the MEND Programme since it was established in 2004, with 350 MEND Programmes delivered across the UK per term.
Professor Atul Singhal, paediatrician and head of clinical trials in the Childhood Nutrition Research Centre at ICH, said: “These results suggest that the MEND programme helps overweight and obese children lose weight. They also show that child weight management programmes have a positive effect on a child’s health and so could help to address the rising obesity problem in children.”
Harry MacMillan, chief executive of MEND, said: “The MEND Programme isn’t a miracle pill for obesity, but what this independent study does show is that child weight-loss programmes that involve the whole family, like the MEND Programme, are a scientifically-proven and sustainable solution to the child obesity crisis.
“With the recent suspension of obesity drugs, such as Reductil, 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 Programme, does work if done in the right way. With more funding, MEND could significantly reduce the number of overweight and obese children in the UK.”
By the final year of primary school, nearly one in three children aged 10 or 11 is overweight, according to the latest data from the Government’s National Child Measurement Programme in schools.
For further information, including a copy of the research paper in full and case studies, please contact Paul Martin, MEND media team, on 020 7231 7225 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
or Hayley Dodman, ICH press office, 0207 239 3126 or email email@example.com
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