Milken Institute School of Public Health Awarded $1.5 Million to Address Poor Nutrition/Obesity in Latino Immigrant Community

For Immediate Release: September 25, 2014

Media Contact: Kathy Fackelmann,, 202-994-8354

WASHINGTON, DC (September 25, 2014) -- On September 25, 2014 Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University was awarded $1.5 million for a new project that will address poor nutrition/obesity in a Latino immigrant community through a collaborative effort. The Avance Center for the Advancement of Immigrant/Refugee Health, a research center based at Milken Institute SPH, will conduct the three-year intervention and evaluation study in the neighborhood of Langley Park, MD. The award, which is part of the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, aims ultimately to find interventions that will reduce chronic diseases associated with poor nutrition and obesity. These are conditions that disproportionally affect the Latino community.

Langley Park is a suburb of Washington, DC, with a majority of residents who are immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and other Central and Latin American countries. They often come from rural settings where fresh fruits and vegetables are accessible--and when they reach the DC suburbs they find a landscape that is filled with fast-food outlets.

“In Langley Park, there is easy access to foods high in fat, sugar and salt—foods that can be low in nutritional value yet trigger rapid weight gain,” said Mark Edberg, PhD, director of the Avance Center. “We hope to find ways to address the barriers to healthier foods so that Latino families can reduce their risk of obesity.”

Dr. Edberg, together with Dr. Uriyoán Colón-Ramos, a public health investigator in the Department of Global Health at Milken Institute SPH, serve as co-principal investigators on the three-year study.

The CDC REACH initiative was launched in 1999 to focus on racial/ethnic minority communities that experience disproportionately high rates of health problems such as obesity. Using a community collaborative approach (as do all REACH efforts), this three-year project aims to better understand barriers to eating healthier foods in a low-income neighborhood and to develop initiatives that might reduce the risk, not just for this community, but for others Latino communities all over the United States. The project will build on the Avance Center’s existing collaborations and interventions.


About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University:

Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, nearly 1,400 students from almost every U.S. state and more than 43 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.