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Study: “JOIN For ME” Program Effectively Treats Childhood Obesity

Research published by the journal Pediatric Obesity (September 2013) demonstrates that overweight and obese children and teens who participated in JOIN for ME SM were able to continue losing excess weight and improving their health and quality of life one year after the program had ended.

Additionally, JOIN for ME helped reduce the percentage of children who met criteria for “obesity” or “extreme obesity.” The program also enabled parents of participating children to achieve small, statistically significant weight reductions.

JOIN for ME is a community-based, pediatric-obesity lifestyle-intervention program developed by UnitedHealth Group’s UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization. The study was conducted in 2012 with the YMCA of the USA and the YMCA of Greater Providence, R.I.

JOIN for ME engages overweight and obese kids ages six to 17, along with their parents, in a series of evidence-based learning sessions to achieve healthier weights through balanced food choices, increased physical activity and tracking.

“We developed JOIN for ME to address the need for a cost-effective, scalable and successful childhood obesity intervention that can be delivered to a much larger group of families than traditional, hospital-based treatment interventions that cost several thousand dollars per patient,” said Deneen Vojta, M.D., a physician executive at UnitedHealth Group and one of the study’s principal investigators. “This study is the first to document long-term outcomes in a community-based program developed to help kids reduce excess weight, and we are pleased that the results show a statistically significant improvement in weight outcomes among participants.”

“JOIN for ME helps parents connect with their kids to help them live a healthier lifestyle,” said Donna Cabral, whose family participated in the program. “It provides parents with the tools to help interact with our kids, it gives us a support group, and it gives us rewards at the end. It taught us to not give up, and that we could achieve our goals.”

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