Updated March 26 at 6:25pm
health care

YMCA study targets obese youth

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PROVIDENCE – Families of overweight children and teens in Rhode Island have the opportunity to participate in a study at the YMCA to evaluate an evidence-based program aimed at helping kids and teens achieve a healthier weight, officials said.

The study, dubbed JOIN, targets children between the ages of 6 and 17 who are above the 85th percentile for BMI (weight-to-height ratio) and are in general good health. JOIN will support families in building skills to effectively manage eating and activity patterns to achieve a healthier weight.

The JOIN study, announced Dec. 29, is underwritten by UnitedHealth Group, YMCA of the USA, the YMCA of Greater Providence and Gary Foster, director of Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education.

“The JOIN study is looking to fill a void for families who are struggling with the effects of excess weight and its consequences,” said Karen Leslie, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Providence. “Most families know what to do – eat healthier and move more. This study will give them the tools and strategies they need to get started in the comfort of their home.”

This study complements other research being done in Providence, according to Elissa Jelalian, associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Beginning in February, eligible children and a parent are invited to participate in the six-month study by attending 12 group sessions at one of the eight YMCA locations in Rhode Island (Bayside, Cranston, EastSide/Mt. Hope, Providence Youth Services, Kent County, Newman, South County and West Bay). In addition to YMCA sessions, each family is supported with materials for 12 self-study home sessions designed to promote healthier eating and more active lifestyles.

The study is offered at no cost, and participants do not need to be a YMCA member or an UnitedHealthcare insurance plan customer to enroll. Participation is limited to 150 families, and spaces are expected to fill quickly. For more information and eligibility requirements, contact a care coordinator at (401) 427-1866 or visit www.iwilljoinin.com.

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