FIFA and education representatives join forces to combat childhood obesity and improve health

Congratulations to Mexican public schools representatives and FIFA, for leading the Latin American development of a joint initiative to combat childhood obesity and implement programs in schools to improve health.

FIFA’s 11 for Health was launched in Mexico in summer of 2011:

The “11 for Health” programme complements the Mexican government’s “5 Pasos por tu Salud”  (“Five Steps for Your Health”) and “Mídete, cuida tu peso” (“Measure Yourself, Watch Your Weight”) campaigns to harness the full potential of using football to promote health. Studies show that playing football, competitively or just for fun, reduces the risk factors for many diseases indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Based on these findings, F-MARC decided to combine the direct health effects of the game with its unique power in education and prevention to create this comprehensive health programme, using top players such as Mexico’s Carlos Vela and Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, to name just a few, to deliver health education messages to young people.

                                    -FIFA’s press release July 7, 2011

In Mexico City last week, Ministers and Vice-Ministers of education from 31 countries, along with representatives from international organization met to discuss the program’s further implementation into educational curricula.

The specific aims for Mexico (the first country outside of Africa to implement the program), includes a phased plan with targeted objectives to both ‘train-the-trainers,’ and ‘train-the students.’ A preliminary goal is to reach 22,100 of Mexico’s public secondary schools by 2014-2015.

Mexico’s Health Minister, Dr José Ángel Córdova Villalobos underscores the importance of action to improve the health of Mexican youth. He states that the average age when youth start smoking and consuming alcohol is 13.7 years — younger than in previous years.  Youths’ unhealthy consumption habits, combined with sedentary behaviour pose a great public health risk for Mexico which has a relatively young demographic.

The hope is that through football – “the world’s most popular language” – FIFA and their allies will communicate positive health messages that result in long-lasting behaviour change.

For more on the 11 for health program go here

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