Mondelez International Foundation Fights Rising Tide of Global Flab

Heard of it? We didn’t think so. The foundation has only been around since 2012. Its parent company, Mondelez International, a snack foods purveyor primarily doing business outside the U.S., split off from Kraft Foods, Inc. about a year and a half ago, and as the company figured itself out, so too did the foundation. And it decided very quickly that it would focus on global public health, specifically nutrition and obesity.

The program is the Call for Well-being, a four-part initiative that seeks to promote sustainable agriculture, safety, mindful snacking, and community partnership throughout the world. Its latest announcement fits right in with that last goal, embodying a spirit of collaboration as it prepares to give $50 million over three years to nonprofit organizations in five countries—Brazil, India, Russia, China, and Australia—to help stem the rising tide of obesity, especially among children.

“A recent report in the Lancet estimated there are 2 billion obese people in the world,” foundation president Nicole Robinson told me. “Obesity is a public health issue, and it’s something we can’t tackle alone. So we’re funding these community partnerships, and we’re collaborating better.”

In three countries—Russia, China, and Brazil—MIF’s funding is going to expand existing anti-obesity programming. In Brazil, for example, INMED Partnerships for Children and the Institute for Sports Education are expanding Health in Action, which integrates INMED’s nutrition programming and school gardening projects with increased active play.

In Australia and India, new programs that seek to accomplish similar goals will be established for the first time. In Australia, the Football Federation Australia will host a healthy lifestyle program, Australia’s biggest, that will benefit 115,500 children and families across 300 schools.

It might sound like a bit of a conflict of interest for a snack foods company to take on obesity, but in a way, it makes perfect sense. MIF is already active in these global markets where obesity is a huge problem, meaning they come ready with a network of community organizations and partnerships made for quick collaboration. But they also have a snack food company’s understanding of the behavioral changes that lead to obesity, and how they can be modified to lead in a healthier direction.

“We’re uniquely positioned to tackle this issue,” says Robinson. “It resonates quite well, as a snack food company.”