The Y Expands Commitment to Ending Childhood Obesity through the MEND Program

June 30th, 2015 by Healthy Weight Partnership

YMCA of the USA and Healthy Weight Partnership will expand childhood obesity program, providing children and families critical support for reaching a healthy weight

SAN DIEGO, CA – June 30, 2015 YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) and Healthy Weight Partnership, Inc., an organization that develops and implements evidence-based weight management programs internationally, are entering a long-term agreement that allows YMCAs across the United States to offer the Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do it! (MEND) 7-13 program. MEND is one of the world’s largest evidence-based childhood obesity programs that empowers 7 to 13 year olds, with the support of their families, to reach a healthy weight.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in children and adolescents over the past 30 years. Today, obesity affects one in six children and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for a number of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and mental health issues.

“As one of the largest youth-serving organizations in the country and a leading community-based network committed to improving the nation’s health, the Y is determined to play a significant role in reducing childhood obesity,” said Kevin Washington, President and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “The MEND program will strengthen our efforts to help children reach a healthy weight, which will not only improve individual health, but also the overall health of our communities.”

Y-USA selected MEND after soliciting input from national childhood obesity experts to help identify a proven program that could be implemented on a national scale. MEND has shown statistically significant reductions in body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, sedentary activities and improvements in physical activity. The program, which typically is made up of groups of 8-15 children and their adults, creates a safe, fun and active environment for children
and their families to explore and adopt proven methods to living a healthier lifestyle. Most sessions are 2 hours in length, with the first hour delivered in a classroom setting and the second hour focusing on physical activity.

“Since 2008 we’ve worked with Ys around the U.S. to successfully deliver the MEND program, but we’re delighted to be able to work with Y-USA to offer the program to many more children and families through the Y’s national network,” said Harry MacMillan, Managing Director of Healthy Weight Partnership.

Several Ys already offer MEND and the Y will expand a ‘YMCA version’ of the MEND program nationally during the next several years. With 2,700 Ys and a presence in 10,000 communities, the Y has the capacity to reach thousands of children and families who struggle daily with reaching a healthy weight.

“The combination of the Y and Healthy Weight Partnership to offer this solution demonstrates their continued commitment to address one of the nation’s most important issues, the health of our children,” said William Dietz, MD, Ph.D., obesity expert and Director of the Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at The George Washington University. “As the nation struggles to support children and their families dealing with excess weight and its
complications, we need a solution that extends health care delivery systems and that can support long-term behavior change. The MEND program has shown that it can improve child weight status and address issues related to pediatric obesity. The YMCA’s plan to partner with health care providers to scale this intervention through its extensive national network is very encouraging.”

The news was announced at the 8th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, the nation’s largest gathering focused on forming alliances to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic. MEND is just one of the ways the Y helps kids “hop” health and achievement gaps by providing a safe place to learn, stay healthy and build friendships. For more information visit or


About the Y
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. For more information about the Y, visit

About Healthy Weight Partnership, Inc.
The Healthy Weight Partnership team has developed, implemented and continuously improved evidence-based weight management programs internationally, with a focus on children and families. As exclusive representatives of MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition… Do it!) programs in North America, Healthy Weight Partnership is part of the largest and most researched system of child weight management programs in the world. Healthy Weight Partnership works closely with community-based, public, private, non-profit and academic organizations to reach some of the neediest families and communities. For more information about Healthy Weight Partnership or MEND Programs visit