U of S, Saskatchewan Blue Cross and SaskSport announce childhood obesity prevention program in northern Saskatchewan

Saskatoon – The U of S announced today the expansion of a program that aims to fight the growing epidemic of childhood obesity in Prince Albert and northern Saskatchewan. The program is called MEND, which stands for Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, and Do It.

MEND inspires children and families to lead and sustain fitter, healthier and happier lives by changing behaviours that cause obesity. The expansion was made possible through partnerships with Saskatchewan Blue Cross and SaskSport.

“We want to teach the youth in our province the necessary skills to make healthy choices while providing them with the knowledge they need to continue long after the program ends,” said Carol Rodgers, dean of the College of Kinesiology. “Because of MEND, families have been able to experience a significant lifestyle change and continue to be supported with any challenges they might run into.”

Together with their parents, children learn about topics that range from nutrition and portion size to motivation and goal setting.  Children also participate in group physical activity while parents discuss ways to improve the overall health of their families.

“We recognized the need to develop a broad community-based approach that would find a solution to this urgent health issue,” said Arnie Arnott, president and CEO of Saskatchewan Blue Cross. “Our donation created a breakthrough pathway for young people in Saskatchewan to connect with a new obesity prevention program. The MEND program, delivered at the University of Saskatchewan, is the first of its kind in our province and we’re actively promoting its message.”

Presently in Canada, more than a quarter of children ages two to 17 are overweight or obese.  In Saskatchewan the problem is even more pronounced with a rate of over 29 per cent.

“We are very pleased our partnership will further the goal of Saskatchewan Blue Cross to expand MEND into other areas of Saskatchewan,” said Jerry Shoemaker on behalf of Sport, Culture and Recreation. “Together we are clearing obstacles and creating a way for young people to connect with the MEND program outside of Saskatoon. We are committed to the issue of childhood obesity by partnering with the U of S and MEND to promote physical activity through sport for children.”

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For more information, please contact:

Jennifer Thoma

Media relations

University of Saskatchewan

306-966-1851

jennifer.thoma@usask.ca