Mind, Exercise, Nutrition… Do it!—MEND!

The University of Texas CORD project is using MEND, “Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It” to work with children who are overweight or obese. MEND is an international program that empowers children and adults to become more physically fit and healthier. MEND 2-5 is a healthy lifestyle program for children aged 2 to 5 and their parents. It involves a 90-minute weight management and fitness session once a week for 10 weeks given in local communities.

Child sitting on the floor coloring

Nahomi is a very lively 4 year old participating in the MEND 2-5 program with her mother, father and two younger siblings. She was referred by her pediatrician and the parents also had concerns about her eating habits.

The parents have really enjoyed all of the information presented throughout the program. However, they thought the nutrition information was important, because they wanted to know how to help their daughter eat more vegetables. They enjoyed the Eating without Fuss session. Nahomi does not like to eat vegetables or fruits.  She is a very picky eater and the parents were very concerned that she was not eating enough. They did however learn that she will eat when she is hungry. Before participating in MEND, Nahomi and her family were already very active. MEND sessions reinforced the importance of being a physically active family and they learned about different games they can play with Nahomi and her 2 year old brother to increase their physical activity as a family.

The entire family has benefited from participating. Nahomi’s dad, Miguel, said that this program has helped him make personal changes. For example, he is drinking less soda and more water. He used to drink six cups of soda per day, but now only drinks one cup per day. He also told us that he is eating fewer tortillas per day. Her parents said that they have seen that she has started to try more vegetables. Even if she does not eat them, she licks them and puts them in her mouth. This is a step in the right direction.

The entire family attended every MEND session. MEND program staff have noticed how Nahomi has become more social and talkative as each week went by. It was nice to see her dad so concerned and interested in the information that was presented. They also understand that they do need to make changes in order to be good role models for their children. Making a lifestyle change is a family effort, and they are on the right track to becoming a “fitter, healthier and happier” family.