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Million pound challenge invites Houstonians to make a “healthy selfie”

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At a press conference in the rotunda of Houston City Hall Wednesday August 13, Mayor Parker, joined by several City Council Members, Human Resources Director Omar Reed, and Lan Berstein, President of Shape Up Houston, invited Houston residents to make a “Healthy Selfie” in support of the Million Pound Challenge.

The million pound challenge is an effort to address the chronic problem of obesity in Houston, which has been termed the most obese city in the USA. Houstonians are invited collectively lose at least one million pounds, or an average of ½ pound per person. The million pound challenge began on January 29, 2014 at a similar news conference, and is part of an ongoing corporate effort to promote healthier lifestyles by larger employers including the City of Houston. According to Lan Bernstein, referring to the accumulated totals on the Shape Up Website, as of the press conference, over 6,519 Houstonians have pledged to lose 22,903 pounds, or 3½ pounds per person and they have walked, run, or jogged 103, 340 miles. But the initial response is only a small step in the right direction.

To further stimulate interest and encourage participation, Lan Bernstein, in collaboration with Mayor Parer, the City Council, now urge everyone to make a “Healthy Selfie.” Participation is simple, free, and easy for anyone who owns or has access to a cell phone and printer. First, access the Shape Up Houston website, and select “Sign Up” to register for a free account and select a user name and password. Next, download and print the “Healthy Selfie” pledge form. Decide on a positive step you plan to take to become healthier, and write it in a black felt tip marker on the form. Take a “selfie” holding up your pledge, and upload it to the Shape Up Houston website (as well as any other social media.

According to Houston Human Resources Director Omar Reed, over the last 3 years,the City of Houston has moved away from a prescriptive approach to promoting preventative measures. “Shape Up Houston has been a part of that policy. We have saved $65 million dollars and our employees are healthier.” Mayor Parker stated that she had earlier made a pledge to lose weight, but it has been difficult since she eats out frequently for all three meals most days. However, for her Healthy Selfie, she mentioned a pledge to increase her workout times from 2 to 4 per week.

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