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New Mexico State University
New Mexico State University

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Colleagues win funding to promote healthy habits

Beatriz Favela and Becky Keele

New Mexico State University School of Nursing Associate Professor Becky Keele is the lead investigator for a "Pipeline to Proposal" funding award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Keele's objective is to increase the capacity of Mexican-American families residing in the Colonias of the Southern New Mexico border region to discover strategies to promote healthy eating and physical activity to reduce health disparities related to overweight and obesity issues.

Among the collaborators on Keele's project, "Mobilizing Community Engagement for Health in a Southern New Mexico Border Region Colonia," is Beatriz Favela, program operations director for NMSU's Southern Area Health Education Center in the College of Health and Social Services.

In New Mexico, Hispanic school-aged children are more than twice as likely as White non-Hispanic students to be obese (17.7 percent versus 8.7 percent) according to Healthy Kids New Mexico. Hispanic families residing in the Colonias are at a higher risk for health disparities because of substandard housing, safety issues, high poverty levels and lack of basic infrastructure.

Increased poverty places families at high risk for food insecurity, which is the inability to access sufficient, safe and nutritious food. Children in food-insecure homes are significantly more likely to be overweight. The lack of access to needed resources makes healthy choices about eating and physical activity very difficult.