New Publication: The MEND Trial

Background: The Mind, Exercise, Nutrition...Do it! (MEND) childhood obesity intervention was implemented in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada from April 2013 to June 2017.

The study objective was:

a) to describe and exploreprogram reach, attendance, satisfaction, acceptability, fidelity, and facilitators and challenges during scale-up andimplementation of MEND in B.C. while

b) monitoring program effectiveness in improving children’s body mass index (BMI) z-score, waist circumference, dietary and physical activity behaviours, and psychological well-being.

Methods: This prospective, pragmatic implementation evaluation (Hybrid Type 3 design) recruited families with children and adolescents aged 7–13 with a BMI≥85th percentile for age and sex. The 10-week MEND B.C. program was delivered in 27 sites, throughout all five B.C. health regions (Northern, Interior, Island, Fraser, and Vancouver Coastal) over 4 years. Families attended two weekly in-person group sessions aimed to increase physical activity and promote healthy eating. BMI z-score and waist circumference were measured at baseline and follow-up. Dietary and physical activity behaviours and psychological well-being were measured using validated questionnaires. A mixed-method approach was used to collect and analyze the data.

Results: One hundred thirty-six MEND B.C. programs were delivered over 4 years. The program reached 987 eligible participants. 755 (76.5%) children and adolescents completed the program. The average program attendance was 81.5%. Parents reported the program content was easy to understand, culturally suitable, respectful of family’s financial situation, and provided adequate information to build a healthy lifestyle. Children achieved significant positive changes across all four evaluation years in BMI z-score (d=−0.13), nutrition behaviours (d= 0.64), physical activity levels (d=0.30), hours of screen time per week (d=−0.38) and emotional distress (d=−0.21). Challenges to continued program implementation included: recruitment, resource requirement for implementation, and the need to tailor the program locally to be more flexible and culturally relevant.

Conclusions: The program reached a broad demographic of children and adolescents in B.C. Families were highly satisfied with the program delivery. MEND. B.C. at scale was effective across all four evaluation years in improving BMI z-score, lifestyle behaviours and psychological well-being among children. Future interventions need to explore strategies to enhance program delivery flexibility.

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