Shape Up Houston launches 2014 Million Pound Challenge program


One million pounds: That's how much weight one group is hoping Houstonian's will shed this year in a new weight-loss challenge.

It's called Shape Up Houston, and Mayor Annise Parker is joining the fight, taking on the Million Pound Challenge and encouraging other businesses in and around Houston to do the same.

Shape Up Houston has about 3,300 participants with just more than 2,000 pounds lost -- still far away from meeting their goal of 1 million pounds lost.

Shape Up Houston's approach, used successfully before in other cities, is to align significant community and employer partners with this shared goal of reducing obesity. The Million Pound Challenge will officially run throughout the entire year. HEB, the city of Houston, The Houston Food Bank, and the Greater Houston YMCA are sponsors.

This is the way it works: Anyone can join for free at where you keep track of what you've eaten, how much exercise you've done and how much weight loss you've seen.

"I think it's fantastic that they are doing that because it's not good to be an overweight city, so if we can help them help themselves, that's great," said Griselda Garza, who is enrolled in the challenge.

. The thought is that happy and healthy employees will be more productive and save a company money.

"It has gotten to be such a crisis that if we don't do something, we will most likely see government regulation and taxation involved," Lan Bentsen with Shape Up Houston said. "We think there's a private sector approach available, and that's what we are trying to provide here."

Again, is where you go to join for free. Businesses do pay a small amount, but that allows them to assign teams and create a little competition between employees.

The City of Houston is also locked in a friendly bet with the city of San Antonio to see who can lose the most weight during this challenge.

Find Foti on Facebook at ReporterFotiKallergis or on Twitter at @FotiKallergis

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