Program to fight obesity
UnitedHealth Group is collaborating with Fort Bend Independent School District on a 12-month program designed to help kids who struggle with extra weight reach healthier weights and reduce the risk of many related health concerns.
JOIN for ME – a first-of-its-kind community based, whole-family program to fight childhood obesity – is being offered to more than 30 families in four Fort Bend ISD elementary schools. The program is offered in conjunction with Activate for Kids, a school wellness initiative developed by UnitedHealthcare and United Health Foundation in partnership with Fort Bend ISD.
Children in the Fort Bend JOIN for ME program will also have the option to take part in an innovative program that measures the potential impact of computer-based gaming, using Xbox® Kinect®, on physical activity levels and weight outcomes when combined with a childhood weight management program.
“We are excited about the potential benefits of the JOIN for ME program for our students,” said Bob Conlon, Ph.D., Director of FBISD’s Student Support Services. “Our District School Health Advisory Council has set a goal of reducing childhood obesity in Fort Bend ISD, and JOIN for ME is a very strong component of a comprehensive effort to accomplish that goal.”
“We know from research that students’ health affects their academic performance. That’s why we need to do all we can to make sure our students make healthy choices. The partnership with UnitedHealth Group has been so helpful to our efforts, especially bringing a proven program like JOIN for ME to the district,” Conlon added.
JOIN for ME engages kids who struggle with extra weight, along with their parents, in a series of group sessions to help them lose weight through healthier family food choices, increased activity and lifestyle improvement. Each session includes group support, learning practical strategies and implementing change in a family’s everyday life through a program called “Connect” “Learn” “Go!”
JOIN for ME emphasizes a combination of whole-family lifestyle and behavior change delivered in 16 weekly sessions followed by monthly maintenance sessions for up to a year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about a third of all children in the United States are obese or overweight, leading to increased health risks, higher health care costs and decreased parental productivity at work. In the Houston metropolitan area, more than 36 percent of children ages 6 to 17 are overweight. Within this population, nearly 20 percent are obese. Obesity in children raises risk factors for heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
“Children who struggle with extra weight are often motivated to change, but they can’t do it alone. They must have the support and full involvement of their families to make healthy eating and family-lifestyle choices that include exercise,” said Deneen Vojta, M.D., senior vice president, UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization.