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Enrollment Opens For Family Healthy Weight Program, JOIN for ME

Evidence-based, family-engaged program, in partnership with Greater Wichita YMCA, now available to Wichita-area Medicaid-eligible children ages 6-17

WICHITA, Kan. (Jan. 22, 2014) – JOIN for METM, a community-based weight management and lifestyle-intervention program, is now available to Medicaid-eligible children and their families in Wichita. 

Greater Wichita YMCA is partnering with UnitedHealthcare to offer the family health and wellness program, with classes beginning Thursday, Jan. 30, at the Robert D. Love Downtown YMCA, 402 N. Market. Advance registration is required for the 16-week course.

The classes are offered at no charge for Medicaid beneficiaries who are enrolled in KanCare and have selected UnitedHealthcare as their Medicaid benefits provider. To enroll, find out more or make a referral, call 1-877-554-3755 or visit

JOIN for ME is a community-based, weight management and lifestyle intervention program designed for children ages 6-17 and their families. It was developed by UnitedHealth Group together with a scientific advisory board, including Gary Foster, Ph.D., professor of Medicine and Public Health and director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University.

Studies have shown that overweight and obese children and teens who participated in JOIN for ME were successful in losing excess weight and improving their health and quality of life, and continued to do so one year after the program ended. A JOIN for ME pilot with the Y of the USA and the YMCA of Greater Providence, R.I., helped participants achieve clinically significant reductions in excess weight and quality of life improvements. A report on the pilot results was published in the October 2012 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics. To read the report, visit

The Greater Wichita YMCA is working with a full-time Wellness Coach and Community Liaison to deploy the program in Kansas. Renee Arensberg, LCSW, CWC, who previously worked at Children’s Mercy Family Health Partners, is recognized statewide as an expert in nutrition and health. The Greater Wichita YMCA has also hired a Spanish-language instructor to serve the community’s Hispanic population.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with UnitedHealthcare and provide people in Wichita a program that can have a healthy and positive impact on our local families,” said Mim McKenzie, vice president of Community Development, Greater Wichita YMCA.

“Children who are overweight or clinically obese often want to lose weight, but don’t know how to go about it,” said Dr. William Downham, chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Kansas. “JOIN for ME provides children with an engaging and practical solution that involves the entire family in adopting healthy eating and activity. We have seen that through this program, multiple members of the family can lose weight by making small changes in their daily routines.”

According to the 2013 America’s Health Rankings® report, Kansas ranked 27th among all 50 states for overall health, and 37th for obesity. Kansas has one of the highest obesity rates in the country, with more than 630,000 obese adults. Nationwide, obesity now affects 17 percent of all children and adolescents – nearly triple the rate from just 30 years ago – according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Top Four Health Consequences of Childhood Obesity

1.     Heart Disease Risk Factors: Children and teens that carry excess weight are at greater risk of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Both increase the risk for heart disease.

2.     Asthma: Asthma is a disease of the lungs in which the airways become blocked or narrowed, causing breathing difficulty. Children with excess weight are more likely to suffer from asthma.

3.     Sleep Apnea: Overweight children and teens are at higher risk for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is the stopping of breathing during sleep. Breathing breaks last for at least 10 seconds, happen repeatedly and are associated with significant drops in oxygen. Signs of sleep apnea include loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness.

4.     Type 2 Diabetes: Obesity has led to increased rates of type 2 diabetes among youth. At one time, type 2 diabetes was rare before adulthood. This is no longer true. The number of people in the United States diagnosed with diabetes is growing by 1.5 million people on average per year. Diabetes can result in heart, eye, kidney and circulation problems as well as reduced life expectancy. Signs of type 2 diabetes include fatigue, and excessive thirst and urination.


About The Greater Wichita YMCA

The Greater Wichita YMCA is a non-profit organization that serves more than 270,000 local kids and adults through child care, camping, urban outreach programs and healthy lifestyles activities. More than two out of three local kids participate in YMCA activities and 70,000 local participants receive free and assisted programs. Within the YMCA’s financial capabilities, no person is refused program or membership privileges because of inability to pay.

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 780,000 physicians and other care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.


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