How to Use Community Competition to Boost Health, Reduce Obesity

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How do you drive healthy, obesity-reducing activities in communities across your state?

The IT’S TIME TEXAS Community Challenge is one way to start!

The annual challenge, sponsored by Texas grocer H-E-B, engages cities and city leaders in competition over 8 weeks to see whose residents can start and participate in healthy living activities in schools and workplaces.

This year, 210 communities, 42 mayors, and 21,393 people participated.

The Community Challenge is designed to ignite the spirit of Texans and give all Texans a fun and free way to advance the movement for a healthier state,” said Dr. Baker Harrell, founder and CEO of It’s Time Texas. “We were so inspired by the many thousands of mayors, schools, businesses, and individuals across Texas that stepped-up to the Challenge.”

IT'S TIME TEXAS H-E-B community challenge HEB

Competing for Healthy Living

For the IT’S TIME TEXAS Community Challenge, city can create healthy events. Participants also can log anything from simply walking to the park to preparing a healthy meal into the online database.

These activities generate points for a person’s community.

Winning communities this year are:

  • METRO: Austin (35% Latino)
  • MID-SIZE: McAllen (84% Latino)
  • LARGE: Harlingen (85% Latino)
  • SMALL (TIE): Prosper (4% Latino) and Lancaster (19% Latino)
  • EXTRA SMALL: Smithville (15% Latino)

Each of the winners get an $1,800 grant to promote local community healthy living.

“From Amarillo to Harlingen and El Paso to Beaumont, the sixth annual Community Challenge reached Texans far and wide, with participants taking charge of their health and the health of their communities,” Harrell said. “We were so inspired by the many thousands of mayors, schools, businesses, and individuals across Texas that stepped-up to the Challenge.”

Here are this year’s overall Community Challenge stats:

  • 6,663 pounds lost
  • 2,131 school activities
  • 326 business activities
  • 21,393 registered users
  • 36,235,053 total minutes of activity

Over the last six years, the IT’S TIME TEXAS Community Challenge led to more than 3.1 million healthy actions.

Innovative initiatives like these are important due to high rates of obesity in states like Texas, where 33.7% of adults and 16.3% of kids are overweight or obesity.

This is especially true in largely Latino states. Latinos are at an even greater risk of developing obesity due to lack of access to healthy food, safe places to play, and other issues, according to Salud America! research reviews.

It’s Time to Change

According to It’s Time Texas, “unhealthy” has become the new normal.

Paso Del Norte Health Foundation healthy menus

Chronic diseases related to unhealthy living have a profound effect on the quality of life for many, and increased costs in healthcare. However, this can all change.

Staying healthy is important, and children as well as adults should have a balanced diet as well as regular physical activity in order to maintain good physical and emotional health.

El Paso, for example, is doing a lot to push healthy changes.

Eat Well at El Paso is teaching people skills they need to live healthier. Eat Well El Paso, led by health worker Joy Leos, revised kid meal menus in local restaurants. This program has cut 27,500 calories from restaurant meals and about 60,000mg of sodium from children’s menus, according to Paso del Norte Foundation.

City Blazes New Trails for El Paso. Angela Mora and other El Paso city officials teamed with community groups to launch Move! El Paso Fitness Trails. The initiative created 13 new walking trails for the community, expanding the opportunities for people to walk, get moving, and reduce obesity.

El Paso Artist’s Fake Ads Help Save Streetcars. Peter Svarzbein, an El Paso native, loved how a historic international streetcar system used to connect downtown El Paso, Texas (82.2% Latino) to downtown Cuidad Juárez, Mexico. But it closed in 1974. Today many in El Paso lack public transportation to reach places they need to go, which harms their health, educational, and employment opportunities, and the economy. So Svarzbein created a fictional, yet powerful ad campaign to simulate the return of El Paso’s border-crossing streetcar for his graduate thesis project at New York’s School for Visual Arts. Svarzbein’s El Paso Transnational Trolley Project sparked enough curiosity and enthusiasm to create a real streetcar infrastructure project

El Paso Schools Get HIP. The El Paso Independent School District created its Get HIP Now program to provide students with integrated school health programming and before- and after-school physical activity.

Can your community start working together for big changes?

Follow the example of the IT’S TIME TEXAS Community Challenge!

By The Numbers By The Numbers

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