Reducing Child Obesity: MEND & Shapedown BC
A new set of downloadable resources promoting healthy weights for children 2-5 years old, created jointly by Act Now BC, Nutritionlink and Shapedown BC Centre for Healthy Weights, are available at ChildhoodObesityFoundation.ca. The resources are available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Punjabi.
In addition, The Childhood Obesity Foundation has created MEND and Shapedown, two intervention programs assisting school-aged children and their families in making lifestyle changes that encourage healthy weights. The programs involve the child’s entire family, offer opportunities to make new friends and provide support in making healthier choices. The programs do not promote a diet or weight loss program or ‘someone telling you what to do’.
MEND, a free, early-intervention, 10-week program, funded by the Ministry of Health, is available to children 5-7 or 7-13 years old who are above the 85th percentile BMI for age, with no contraindications for participating in physical activity or groups, and their families.
Shapedown BC is for children/teens 6-17 years who are above the 97th percentile BMI for age, or above the 85th percentile BMI for age and who have complex weight-related medical and/or psychosocial issues.
MEND was created to empower and inspire children and families to lead healthier and happier lives. Grounded in current scientific evidence and best practices in helping children and families reach or maintain a healthier weight, MEND works with families to change unhealthy attitudes about food and activity (Mind), stay active on a regular basis (Exercise), learn how to choose foods that are both tasty and healthy (Nutrition), and take action to maintain a healthy lifestyle – for life (Do it!).
Watch a video about the MEND program in action in Nanaimo.
During the program, families learn about healthy eating and mealtime habits, understanding food labels, serving sizes and building self-esteem. Other topics include positive parenting, healthy growth, active play and behaviour change strategies.
As reported in the Chilliwack Progress (September 19, 2014), “MEND is proven to work; programs delivered in North America show statistically significant results. Children who participated saw improvements in body image and self-esteem as well as eating behaviours and greater understanding of nutrition including eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages. Other positive changes included increased cardiovascular fitness and weekly physical activity and a reduction in ‘screen’ time and sedentary behaviour.
In Chilliwack, the MEND 7-13 program is offered through the Chilliwack Family YMCA and includes a free 3-month Family Membership to the Chilliwack Family YMCA to encourage families to maintain their healthy lifestyle. Throughout BC, all graduating MEND families receive a 3-month free local recreation pass. Families participating in Shapedown BC receive a family coaching session as well as a family pass.
MEND programs include health screening, group sessions and access to online resources. Shapedown BC programs include comprehensive, multi-disciplinary assessment (dietician, metal health specialist, physician), group sessions led by health professionals, and individualized, clinical support and follow up to 17 years. In both programs, no diets are involved and the programs are designed to empower children and their families to use practical interactive approaches, with an emphasis on fun.
MEND and Shapedown programs are currently being offered in:
- Abbotsford (MEND7-13)
- Campbell River (MEND 5-7.& MEND 7-13)
- Chilliwack (MEND 7-13)
- Colwood (MEND 7-13)
- Kamloops (MEND 7-13 & Shapedown BC)
- Kelowna (MEND 5-7 & MEND 7-13)
- Langley (MEND 7-13 & Shapedown BC)
- Nanaimo (MEND 7-13 and Shapedown BC)
- Nelson (MEND 7-13)
- New Westminster (MEND 5-7)
- Prince George (MEND 5-7, MEND 7-13 & Shapedown BC)
- Saanich (MEND 7-13)
- Surrey (MEND 7-13)
- Terrace (MEND 7-13)
- Vancouver (MEND 7-13, Shapedown BC & Shapedown BC for Chinese Families)
- Victoria (MEND 7-13)