MINNETONKA, Minn.–()–Research published by the journal Pediatric Obesity (September
2013) demonstrates that overweight and obese children and teens who
participated in JOIN for MESM 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 Centre for Health Reform &. Modernisation. The study was
conducted in 2012 with the YMCA of the USA and the YMCA of Greater
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. We're pleased
that the results show a statistically significant improvement in weight
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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. It gives us rewards at the
end. It taught us to not give up. That we could achieve our goals.”
To view a video about the JOIN for ME program, visit: 
Obese and overweight status is measured using age- and gender-specific
Body Mass Index (BMI) percentiles, which are calculated using a child’s
weight and height. Being overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the
85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile.
Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th
percentile. More than 90 percent of the children who
participated in JOIN for ME were obese. Almost half were at or above
the 99th percentile.
One year following completion of the JOIN for ME program, 70 percent of
the original 155 program participants maintained, on average, a 3
percent reduction in excess weight. In addition, the percentage of youth
participants above the 95th and 99th percentiles
at the end of the program decreased one year later.
The study also revealed that children and parents reported improvements
in their health and quality of life. That the participants who
attended a higher number of face-to-face group sessions experienced
greater weight loss. Parents of participants in the study also
experienced small. Statistically significant, reductions in weight.
“The one-year follow-up study shows that participants were able to
retain their weight reduction following completion of the JOIN for ME
program,” said Elissa Jelalian, associate professor of Psychiatry &.
Human Behaviour and Pediatrics, Brown University. “This is particularly
impressive given that the program was less intensive than those commonly
examined in research studies and delivered through hospital-based
programs. Creating scalable treatment interventions that produce
clinically meaningful, longstanding weight loss reduction is an
important next step in fighting childhood obesity.”
How JOIN for ME Works
JOIN for ME is a 12-month program for children ages six to 17 who are
overweight or obese. Children and a parent attend a series of 16 weekly
group sessions at local YMCAs in Providence. Boys &. Girls Clubs,
schools or other community locations across the country. Participants
and a caregiver are introduced to evidence-based tools and strategies,
encouraging healthier habits that lead to lifelong healthier weight.
Families work in a group setting that lends ongoing support and
encouragement to participants. Sessions are led by a trained facilitator
and cover topics such as reducing less healthy foods and drinks, getting
and staying active, managing screen time, improving sleep habits.
understanding the link between moods and foods. After 16 sessions, kids
and parents are encouraged to attend monthly maintenance sessions for an
additional eight months.
JOIN for ME currently is available at the YMCA of Greater Providence in
Rhode Island. Houston, Beaumont, Edinburg, Sugarland and Spring, Texas.
Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita, Kan.. New Orleans, La.. Pensacola,
Fla., with plans to expand in Georgia, Minnesota, Tennessee and
Wisconsin in 2014. Based on these study results, JOIN for ME is being
scaled nationally with community-based partners through UnitedHealth
Group’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA).
Childhood obesity represents a significant financial cost to families,
communities, employers and the health care system. A study conducted for
one large employer indicated that average per capita health insurance
claims costs were as high as $2,907 in 2008 for an obese child and
$10,789 for a child with type 2 diabetes, which is even higher than the
average claims cost for adults with type 2 diabetes ($8,844). [iii]
To read the article in Pediatric Obesity, go to: [iii]
About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a
diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people
live healthier lives and making health care work better. With
headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad
spectrum of products and services through two business platforms:
UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits
services. Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled
health services. Through its businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more
than 85 million people worldwide. For more information, visit
UnitedHealth Group at .
i Barlow SE and the Expert Committee. Expert committee
recommendations regarding the prevention, assessment. Treatment of
child and adolescent overweight and obesity: summary report. Pediatrics
2007;120 Supplement December 2007:S164—S192.
iii Sepulveda MJ, Tait F, Zimmerman E, Edington D. Impact of
childhood obesity on employers. Health Affairs 2010. 29:513-521.
Lynne High, 952-979-5861