Large-scale US study confirms that healthy living program for children with overweight and obesity improves weight and other important health and psychological outcomes

For Immediate Release

Los Angeles, CA, August 8, 2018 – Groundbreaking study results published this week in the prestigious International Journal of Obesity show that fun and free community-based MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do it!) programs improve health and wellness in children with overweight and obesity and empower children to help each other improve their weight status.

The study reports on MEND, the most researched child weight management program in the world. Nearly 4,000 children and their families in 8 US states took part, making it the largest study of its kind. With an increased demand for cost-effective solutions to the growing problem of childhood obesity, this study evaluated the real-world impact of the MEND program in targeted, high needs populations. The study found that MEND produced a wide range of health and psychological benefits, including improved weight status, reduced waist circumference, increased fitness and, importantly, improved psychological measures, such as quality of life and self-esteem. This demonstrates the positive and potentially life changing impact that MEND programs can have on families.

Over the last 18 years, MEND research has taken place in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. Dr. Paul Sacher, Science Director of Healthy Weight Partnership and the study’s Chief Investigator comments, “Guidelines clearly state that all families with children with obesity should be offered a child weight management program, like MEND, to improve their lifestyles and to prevent children from growing up into adults with obesity, with all the associated health and psychological problems. Our study demonstrates that MEND can be implemented nationwide in a wide range of community settings. We found very high levels of attendance (over 70%) and low drop-out rates (under 12%). This clearly shows that families really enjoyed attending the program, a key factor for the effectiveness of family-based programs. Most importantly, we found improvements in key health and psychological outcomes. These improvements are associated with long-term reductions in chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and improvements in physical and mental health.”

Dr. Sacher continues, “It’s time to start doing something to help the families of the 1 in 3 children with overweight and obesity. This study shows that MEND delivers positive outcomes at scale and in communities traditionally seen as hard to reach and engage. MEND is replicable, scalable and cost-effective and should be made widely available in high needs communities in settings that families can easily access.”

Teresa Earle, Partnership Director of Healthy Weight Partnership noted, “Since MEND launched in the US in 2008, our team has worked to research and continuously improve the programs and to support their delivery in communities across the nation. Obesity experts recommend group programs like MEND since they provide the best return on investment and can deliver outcomes for children and their families to improve lifelong health and well-being. This study represents a major milestone in our evidence base.

“We are always pleased to help health care, community-based and faith organizations implement MEND locally. In addition, to make it even easier to deliver such programs, we recently launched our newest program, Healthy Together™ powered by MEND. Healthy Together empowers single health care educators and faith or fitness professionals to deliver effective family-based healthy living and child weight management programs in their local communities at significantly lower cost, and with even greater flexibility. The program is fun and easy to follow, and helps families develop the skills needed to be healthy for life.”

* Note: Children in the study reduced their BMI z-score (BMI adjusted for gender and age), which is the CDC recommended measure for weight status in children.

For more info on MEND:

MEND programs are the largest and most researched system of child weight management programs in the world. Our multidisciplinary team has designed, delivered and supported expert-developed programs and services that empower children and their families to improve their health, fitness and self-esteem by managing their health in a sustainable way. In addition, MEND is being rolled out nationally under license by the YMCA of the USA as their preferred child weight management program under the brand Healthy Weight and Your Child.

For more information about MEND programs visit


Sacher, P.M; Kolotourou, M; Poupakis, S; Chadwick, P; Radley, D; Fagg, J. Addressing childhood obesity in low income, ethnically diverse families: outcomes and peer effects of MEND 7–13 when delivered at scale in US communities. International Journal of Obesity. August 3, 2018.

Full study available here: