Healthy Ties

Obesity Prevention is Goal of CSUF Partnership With Mexican University and Healthcare Agencies

November 28, 2006

By Mimi Ko Cruz

Preventing obesity by promoting healthy lifestyles is the goal of a new program that brings together Cal State Fullerton, the Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala in Mexico and various U.S. and Mexican health agencies and hospitals.

The university partnership is one of 10 that the federal government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has established as part of the Training, Internships, Exchanges and Scholarships (TIES) program. The other university partnerships are Southwestern University Law School and Tec de Monterrey; American University and Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca; Oregon State University and Universidad de Guadalajara; University of Arizona and Universidad de Baja California; University of North Texas and Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara; University of Georgia and Universidad Pedagógica Veracruzana and Escuela Normal Veracruzana; Duquesne University and Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes; University of Texas at San Antonio and Universidad Veracruzana; and Western Illinois University and Universidad Autónoma de Queretaro and Universidad de la Selva.

The TIES initiative is an eight-year $50 million collaborative program between the U.S. government and Mexican educational institutions and private sectors in both countries. According to government officials, it is designed to advance the objectives of the Partnership for Prosperity, an initiative of President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox. USAID is providing $35 million for TIES and partners are contributing $15 million. CSUF is receiving $299,525 for its participation.

The university’s departments of health science and nursing will be teaming up with U.S. public health agencies, St. Jude Medical Center and Mexican public health organizations and hospitals in Tlaxcala.

The goal is “to empower local Tlaxcalan communities to maintain healthy lifestyles by promoting obesity prevention that can cause diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease,” said Donald S. Castro, special assistant to President Milton A. Gordon and director of the program.

Also part of the project research team are Christine Latham, professor of nursing; Shari McMahan, chair and professor of health science; and Jeannie Kim-Han, director of Internships and Service Learning.

“This program ties right into our efforts to prevent diabetes and obesity in the community,” McMahan said.

As part of the program, faculty, staff and students from both universities will be offered work, study and research exchanges beginning in 2007, Castro said.

In addition, he said, public health and nursing coursework will be offered through online instruction. Seven scholarships also will be offered to Mexican students. Their study will culminate in a certificate in public health with a focus on diabetes prevention, Castro said.

Research teams made up of students and faculty members from both universities will develop questionnaires to provide comparable data, identify populations prone to obesity, look at socio-economic causes of obesity and diabetes and resistance to Western-based medical interventions, Castro said. The researchers will be expected to develop “best practice” recommendations and to present their findings, he said.

“We are particularity excited by this cross border collaboration and cooperation in this time of current misunderstanding on issues related to undocumented immigration,” Castro said. “We hope to show that good health and healthy lifestyles recognize no borders.”


Don Castro
Donald S. Castro

Shari McMahan
Shari McMahan

Jeannie Kim-Han
Jeannie Kim-Han

Chris Latham
Christine Latham