Mayor Parker kicks off 'Shape Up, Houston' initiative


Things like the farmer's market in front of city hall are what the mayor is talking about, by improving access to good food and promoting healthier choices.

Mayor Annise Parker is leading the charge to help the city of Houston shed its unflattering label as "fattest" city in the country.

"The city of Houston ... is committed to do whatever is necessary to create a healthy community," said Mayor Parker

The effort started from within. The city initiated a wellness plan for its employees a couple of years ago to reduce health care costs, which chewed up 13 percent of the budget. It's already paying dividends. Now, the mayor wants to expand the wellness initiative into the community.

"We want to be able to say, 'If you're a business, here's what you can do. If you're a school, here's what you ought to be doing,'" Mayor Parker said.

That includes investing in green space, walking and running paths and improving access to healthy foods around the city.

I think it's a great program. It not only has direct benefit to the individuals, but benefit to our society," said Houston Councilman Oliver Pennington.

"This is not something we're going to come back a year from now and say, ok, we're done. This is a long-term effort to change mindsets and the culture," said Mayor Parker.

And, of course, by creating a healthier community, employers, like the city, can enjoy savings on health care costs. And a side benefit – happier, more productive employees.

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