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Faculty Spotlight

Obesity Researcher Heads South of the Border to Examine Issue as a Fulbright Scholar

Rebecca Lee Joins Investigators in Guadalajara, Mexico

Rebecca LeeThe epidemic of obesity transcends age, culture, gender and borders. Now, a University of Houston researcher whose work examines environmental, social and psychological factors that lead to obesity prepares to tackle the issue in Guadalajara, Mexico, as a Fulbright Scholar.

Rebecca Lee, associate professor of nutrition in the department of health and human performance, will work with researchers at the Instituto de Ciencias Aplicada a la Actividad Fisica y al Deporte in Guadalajara to develop education and training protocols for health care practitioners and researchers so they can better document and define obesity, as well as the environmental factors that contribute to the epidemic.

"Recent data suggest that the problem of obesity has emerged in Mexico, particularly among youth," Lee said. "Mexico has been cited as having the second-highest obesity prevalence after the United States in the world."

Lee, who is director of the UH Texas Obesity Research Center, has done extensive studies on the many factors that lead to obesity and its related illnesses, including cultural, sociological and neighborhood determinants. She is hopeful her research and research methods can be used to develop strategies to prevent and reverse the emerging obesity epidemic in Jalisco.

"My work in Texas has examined physical activity, dietary habits and body composition in women of color and how to encourage healthier habits," she said. "I'll work with colleagues in Guadalajara on similar studies with parents and children in urban and rural areas."

As a Fulbright Scholar, Lee will live and work in Mexico for nine months. The resulting data will be presented to university and public officials.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program provides participants-chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential-with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

"I'm extremely pleased to receive this honor and hope that during this period of study my colleagues and I are able to make strides in this critical, growing global issue," she said.

For more information on the UH Texas Obesity Research Center visit

For more information on the UH department of health and human performance visit

—Marisa Ramirez