Miriam awarded grant for new weight-improvement program

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Through a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Miriam Hospital will launch a new study to test the effectiveness of a program to help children in low-income families whose health is being challenged by obesity.

Miriam announced the $2.45 million grant Tuesday, crediting help from Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation in securing the grant.

Elissa Jelalian, a Miriam senior research scientist and professor at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, will lead the program trial. It’ll recruit 128 children from ages 6 to 12, encouraging them and their families to adopt a healthier lifestyle — from more nutritious foods to increased physical activity.

The program they’ll use was previously developed by UnitedHealth Group and is known as “JOIN for ME.” Back in 2012, the YMCA of Greater Providence took part in a previous trial of JOIN for ME, which was successful in getting kids to lose excess weight and improve their health and quality of life, according to UnitedHealth.

The difference this time is that the program will be offered through public housing authorities and “patient-centered medical home” doctor’s offices. Most children don’t have access to evidence-based interventions to address obesity in children, Jelalian said in a statement.

“The most pressing need is in children from low-income families, who are at greatest risk for obesity and least likely to have access to care. Delivering interventions through community settings offers one strategy for increasing access,” she said.

Last month, Rhode Island Kids Count released a policy brief showing the seriousness of obesity in Rhode Island’s children, with obesity starting as early as age 2.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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