MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do It!) Program – MEND 7-13

Categories

Categories associated with best practice:

  • Children (ages 6-12) icon
  • Best Practices
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Community/ Neighbourhood
  • Diabetes icon 3
  • Healthy child development
  • Healthy Eating
  • Mental Health Icon 2
  • Personal health practices and coping skills
  • Physical Activity
  • Recreation/ Fitness/ Sport Facilities
  • Secondary School Icon 1
  • Social Support Networks

Overview

The MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition… Do It!) Program is a community intervention aimed to empower families of overweight and obese children to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles. This program combines all the elements known to be important when treating and preventing overweight and obesity in children, including family involvement, behaviour change, practical education in nutrition, and increasing physical activity. MEND is not a diet, nor is designed for rapid weight loss. The purpose of the program is instead to bring about incremental and lasting improvements in families’ dietary intake, fitness levels and overall health to help encourage healthy growth and weight management. MEND offers three programs to meet the needs of: seven to 13 year olds, five to seven year olds and two to four year olds. This annotation is specific to the MEND program for seven to 13 year olds.

The MEND Program has two phases. The first is the intensive phase, during which families attend 20 biweekly, 2-hour sessions over the course of 10 weeks. The first part of the session is based on theory and is delivered in a workshop-style lesson format to all parents and children. These lessons alternate between being “Mind” and “Nutrition” focused. They are designed to teach practical skills around nutrition, education about healthy food choices and behaviour change techniques to support the implementation of new habits. During the second portion of the session, the children participate in fun land- or water-based physical activity, while the parents partake in an hour of guided discussion.

The second phase of the program is follow-up support to graduate families that lasts for two years. Families who
participated in MEND have the option to continue to be motivated and supported by MEND World activities and resources, including the MEND World webpage, the MEND World passport and the quarterly MEND World magazine. There are also local MEND World activities, such as continued exercise sessions, discounts to local fitness centres, Healthy Growth Checks, anthropomorphic, fitness and psychosocial measurements.

The impacts of the MEND Program have been evaluated in a number of studies, including studies employing randomized controlled designs. MEND has been found to positively impact physical health and physical health behaviours, including improved Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference, cardiovascular fitness, physical activity and sedentary behaviours. Some studies have also found that MEND results in improved children’s self-esteem, parent self-efficacy, and reduced psychological distress in children.

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