Press Releases
PAHEF and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Launch New Program to Combat Rates of Childhood Obesity in Yucatán, Mexico

Media Contact: Mary Herdoiza

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WASHINGTON, DC (May 25, 2011) – The Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation today launched a new Health Promotion and Obesity Prevention program to address the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity in Yucatán, Mexico. During the initial phase of the program, PAHEF, working with several public and private partners and local community representatives, will implement a community-based participatory research project to study and develop a model program to combat the high rate of obesity among children in 13 Yucatán municipalities.

Mexico has the world’s second highest rate of childhood obesity. According to Mexican health officials, one-quarter of all school-age Mexicans and more than one-third of adolescents are overweight or obese. The Yucatán ranks third in childhood obesity prevalence in Mexico as reported by the College of Clinical Nutrition and Obesity, AC. In Yucatan, the combined prevalence of overweight and obese school children is approximately 36 percent among both sexes. Children who are overweight and obese during school-age years have a higher chance of becoming obese in adulthood than those who are not overweight during childhood.

“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is dedicated to helping communities stand up for children,” said Valeria Brabata, Program Officer of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are excited to team with PAHEF to directly reach children and families in the Yucatán where the prevalence of both childhood obesity and malnutrition is so high. This project will provide us an opportunity to develop an effective program that will positively impact the children and their future health.”

Through the Health Promotion and Obesity Prevention program, PAHEF will convene a local committee with a vested interest in improving the health of and preventing obesity among children in the Yucatán. The project includes researching and evaluating initial health status and the home, school and community environments of Yucatán children. These data will be used to better understand influencers of health behavior and establish a sustainable model for health promotion and obesity prevention.

“There is a critical need for prevention efforts throughout Latin America as seen by the high rate of childhood obesity in the Yucatan,” said Richard Salvatierra, Vice President for Business Development and Projects at PAHEF. “With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation we hope to gain greater insight into how to successfully implement a program that will not only reverse this trend in the Yucatán, but will serve as a model program that can be replicated in other parts of Latin America facing the same crisis. This is a great beginning to a program that can potentially reach hundreds of thousands of children and families throughout the region.”

“Fighting childhood obesity is a major focus for PAHEF,” said Edward Kadunc, President of PAHEF. “We recognize that unhealthy habits learned in childhood easily carry through to adulthood. The information found in the study phase of this project will be crucial in helping us understand the full scope of the issue in the Yucatán.”

The initial research phase of the project is expected to conclude in early August 2011.


Founded in 1968, the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) public charity that works with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and other strategic partners in the Americas to mobilize resources and jointly address key health, education, and training priorities. With a deep knowledge of major health concerns and strong relationships with key stakeholders in the region, PAHEF builds successful partnerships and projects that advance health in the Americas.



The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, established in 1930, supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Grants are concentrated in the United States, southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

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