Global Initiatives: Latin America

USC Global Health

Uses the drawing power and popularity of soccer in Mexico to develop wide-ranging, community-based programming that encourages youth to engage in physical activity and live healthier lives.

  • The Issues
    • Obesity, a major risk factor for a range of chronic diseases, has become a global epidemic. The problem is particularly severe in Mexico, which has one of the world’s highest obesity rates. Soon, nearly three in four adults in the country will be overweight or obese and overweight prevalence — a widely used measure of widespread weight problems — is 13% and nearly 17%, respectively for boys and girls between 10 and 17 years of age. Among the most direct results: diabetes has increased 30% and is likely to continue rising. The cost of treatment alone for this disease increases pressure on an already stressed healthcare system.
    • There is substantial evidence linking diabetes to a lesser quality of life and lower worker productivity. Separately, numerous studies have also shown that rates of childhood obesity and early onset diabetes rise when children are physically inactive, maintain a poor diet heavy in sugary and processed foods, and have limited access to clean drinking water and health education programs. The obesity epidemic in Mexico has created an urgent need for comprehensive, community-level initiatives to increase physical activity and improve nutrition and wellness education.
  • The Solution
    • Mastery of a physical activity helps children develop self-esteem. But such skill occurs only where there are resources: expert instruction, equipment and a place to play. The USC-LAFC Foundation Global Health Initiative uses the drawing power and popularity of soccer in Mexico to develop wide-ranging, community-based programming that encourages youth to engage in physical activity and live healthier lives. These programs touch on such areas as healthy nutrition and disease prevention through a healthy, active lifestyle.
    • Through partnerships with Mexican organizations and communities, the USC-LAFC Initiative will also provide career counseling, and increase job opportunities and entrepreneurial training. USC and the LAFC Foundation seek not only to address acute problems but to create long-standing changes in how Mexican communities approach a range of issues vital to health.
  • LAFC's Partnership
    • The LAFC Foundation will fund construction of a soccer-centered wellness facility. The project will include a soccer field and running and walking track available to the public and space for health education activities and information. It will also offer easy access to free, clean water and vendors selling healthy foods.
    • The Foundation will establish a youth soccer league and community tournament to encourage participation because their participation lags behind boys. There will be a special effort to involve girls not only in soccer but other physical activities. The Foundation will also provide uniforms, cleats and equipment for approximately 500 children and travel and support to soccer clinics.