"JOIN for ME" Program Available to Medicaid Beneficiaries in South Texas

July 31, 2012
  • Family-oriented, fun program helps children reach a healthier weight and reduce physical health risks like Asthma and Type 2 Diabetes, and emotional health risks such as low self-esteem
  • JOIN classes engage families, communities and partners like Boys and Girls Clubs to help youth achieve a healthier weight

Enrollment is open and classes are beginning for the UnitedHealthcare JOIN for MESM program – now available to Medicaid recipients living in South Texas.

JOIN for ME, introduced in Rhode Island last year, is a weight management program that helps generally healthy children reach a healthier weight and reduce their health risks through exercise, nutrition and support from their families and communities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that a third of all children in the United States are obese or overweight, leading to increased health risks like prediabetes, higher health care costs and decreased parental productivity at work. According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, in the counties where JOIN for ME is being offered, more than 10 percent of the population is managing diabetes.

JOIN for ME – a first-of-its-kind, whole-family program to fight childhood obesity – engages kids who struggle with extra weight, along with their parents, in a series of group sessions to achieve healthier weights through healthier family food choices, increased activity, and lifestyle improvement tracking. Each session is built on the framework of group support, learning practical strategies and implementing change in a family’s everyday life.

Medicaid beneficiaries in Hidalgo and Jefferson counties who are interested in JOIN for ME can call 1-888-887-9003. More information about JOIN for ME can also be found online here.

“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 Noreen Yukon, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas, the company’s Medicaid business. “We are grateful for the opportunity to offer a proven program like JOIN for ME in partnership with Federally Qualified Health Centers and Boys & Girls Clubs to help young people and their families live healthier lives.”

JOIN for ME was developed by UnitedHealth Group together with a scientific advisory board, including Gary Foster from Temple University. In the original proof-of-concept study, JOIN for ME partnered with the YMCA of the USA and the YMCA of Greater Providence, R.I. The study demonstrated that the combination of whole-family engagement helped participants achieve significant reductions in extra weight. After six months, 84 percent of the 155 participants completed the full program and achieved, on average, a 3.5-percent reduction in extra weight. Equally promising is that parents of participants also lost weight in the study, opening the door for new wellness models that engage the entire family.

About Boys & Girls Club of McAllen Metro
The BGC McAllen Metro defines as one of the foundations of its impact formula for youth, healthy lifestyles. BGC McAllen Metro provides 1) academic success, 2) healthy lifestyles; and 3) good character. BGC McAllen Metro has a regional reach serving youth in Hidalgo and Starr counties with units in Rio Grande City, La Joya, McAllen and Weslaco. BGC McAllen Metro serves 13,600 youth annually with outreach services to an additional 3,000 for a grand service total over 17,000 youth.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.  

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