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Mayor Parker and HEB announce “Shape Up Houston”s Million pound challenge

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At a press conference in the Wednesday Jan 29 in the rotunda of City Hall, Mayor Annise Parker accompanied by representatives of HEB, Southwestern Energy, and the YMCA of Greater Houston announced the start of the “Million Pound Challenge” asking Houstonians collectively to lose 1 million pounds.

For several years, surveys including one by the U.S. News and World Report, have found that Houston is the most obese city in the USA. Lan Bentsen, founder of Shape Up Houston, stated that Houstonians may be collectively as much as 100 million pounds overweight. Obesity can lead to other costly and debilitating diseases, such as diabetes, heart, disease, and stroke, with resulting higher medical costs. It also contributes to reduced productivity. As Mayor Parker explained, the City of Houston is the largest employer in the city, so increased medical costs are paid by taxpayers.

Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs estimates that obesity will cost taxpayers $32.5 billion by 2030.

Mayor Parker stated that years ago, when she was a city counselor, the council held a public weigh-in, and she lost 30 pounds, but she regained the weight over the years.

Winell Herron, H-E-B Group Vice President of Public Affairs, Diversity, and Environmental Affairs explained how H-E-B stores support healthier life styles by offering specially marked foods to meet different dietary needs, such as those with lower sodium and lower fat. “ We remain dedicated to maintaining a comprehensive, long-term commitment to improving the health of Texas. We are proud to be the exclusive grocery retailer in the Shape Up Houston Million Pound Challenge.”

After the speeches the Mayor introduced 45-year-old Griselda Garza, an administrative assistant in the Public Works and Human Resources divisions of the City of Houston, who volunteers five days a week to teach a fitness class during her lunch hour. Garza has lost 40 pounds going from 172 to 132 pounds over 2 years.

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