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Kraft Foods and the National Latino Children's Institute Launch Healthy Lifestyles Resource for Hispanics

NORTHFIELD, Ill. - U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona today joined with Kraft Foods Inc. and the National Latino Children's Institute (NLCI) to announce Salsa, Sabor y Salud -- a first-of-its-kind healthy lifestyles educational program designed by Latinos for Latinos. The program was created by NLCI in partnership with Kraft to support Hispanic families, a population particularly at risk for obesity and accompanying health problems.

"My abuelita ruled the kitchen, and every dish she made started with a big scoop of lard from the can at the back of the refrigerator. Her meals were muy sabroso, but now we know that we can have the delicious tastes without adding the fat," Carmona said. "This is part of increasing Americans' health literacy, which is critical in our Hispanic communities where overweight and obesity are contributing to the rise in health problems like heart disease and diabetes that are robbing Latinos of their health and even their lives. Salsa, Sabor y Salud is an excellent example of a creative, community-based approach designed to give families tools they can put to use immediately to lead healthier lives."

Over the last 10 months, the groups have conducted pilot sessions at community organizations in six cities. Through the eight-week curriculum, which now is being made available to community organizations nationwide, families learn small steps to change their daily routines and eating habits that ideally add up to major lifestyle improvements. Salsa, Sabor y Salud was piloted in Los Angeles, San Antonio, Chicago, New York, Newark and Miami, which together comprise nearly 40 percent of the Hispanic population in the U.S.

"Kraft Foods has always recognized the important role that a balanced diet and plenty of physical activity play in leading a healthy life," said Lance Friedmann, Kraft's s.v.p. of global health and wellness. "As a result of the hard work that NLCI and our community partners have put into this program, Salsa, Sabor y Salud is a new kind of approach to address the problem of obesity that really makes sense to people. Through interactive lessons, family food preparation and fun, physical activities, parents and children learn new ways to keep themselves, and each other, healthy."

By the end of 2004, the full curriculum in the pilot and first stage will have reached more than 2,500 families at 50 community organization locations in six states. Additionally, through an extension of the program, more than 5,000 children will experience songs, games and other elements of Salsa, Sabor y Salud as they are incorporated into existing offerings at child-care facilities and other community centers.

Salsa, Sabor y Salud represents a commitment of $2 million since 2002 from Kraft to the Latino community, especially to underserved children. Kraft said it chose NLCI to develop the educational curriculum because of the organization's successful track record in creating children's educational programs specifically for Latinos. The National Recreation and Park Association and Latino Health Communications also lent their expertise to the project.
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