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Shape Up Houston

100 million pounds overweight: Houston's obesity problem attacked in a new Healthy Selfie campaign

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Shape Up Houston Healthy Selfie campaign
Shape Up Houston's Healthy Selfie campaign encourages Houstonians to take a selfie showing each individual's health goals. Courtesy photo
Million Pound Challenge launch at City Hall
In January, Shape Up Houston launched the Million Pound Challenge to help 50,000 to 100,000 overweight and obese Houstonians lose a total of 1 million pounds. Shape Up Houston / Facebook
Healthy Selfie campaign Shape Up Houston
Shape Up Houston's Healthy Selfie campaign encourages Houstonians to take a selfie showing each individual's health goals. Shape Up Houston
Shape Up Houston Healthy Selfie campaign
Million Pound Challenge launch at City Hall
Healthy Selfie campaign Shape Up Houston

Shape Up Houston is hoping to do just what its name states: To shape this city up. The nonprofit organization, founded in 2012 by business executive and civic leader Lan Bentsen, is working to reduce the high level of obesity in the greater Houston area with a Million Pound Challenge and high-tech ways to encourage friendly competition.

In a phone interview, Bentsen noted that Houstonians are 30 percent heavier than New York City residents. "As a city, Houston is 100 million pounds overweight, " he tells CultureMap. Shape Up Houston's health-focused initiatives incorporating social media offer city residents a path to lose those excess pounds.

6,387 Houstonians in the program have logged 22,603 pounds lost in the Million Pound Challenge since late January.

With the help of the Shape Up Houston's new phone app that logs the amount of weight lost and miles traveled by each user, 6,387 Houstonians participating in the program have logged 22,603 pounds lost in the Million Pound Challenge since late January.

In addition to logging weight, the app allows users to track and chart their overall health, including diet, exercise, sleep, body mass index and even blood pressure. The statistics for the challenge — readily available at the top of the organization's website — are constantly growing as more Houstonians choose to participate in the program. 

In addition to encouraging individuals to join the Million Pound Challenge, Shape Up Houston is encouraging companies and offices around Houston to join in, too. With the phone app, co-workers can track their progress against each other, helping encourage them even further in their efforts to get in shape.

On Wednesday, Mayor Parker, along with Bentsen and members of Houston City Council, will tout Shape Up Houston's new Healthy Selfie campaign and the new phone app. The Healthy Selfie campaign encourages Houstonians to write down their health goal on one of Shape Up Houston's "small steps toward big results" sheets, take a selfie with it and post it to social media sites with the hashtag #healthyselfie. The campaign aims to increase awareness about how even small lifestyle changes can have a big impact on improving one's health. 

Seven months ago, Shape Up Houston launched the Million Pound Challenge, an initiative with the goal of helping 50,000 to 100,000 overweight and obese Houstonians lose a grand total of one million pounds. The challenge features community partners such as the City of Houston, the Greater Houston Partnership and the Houston Food Bank, as well as company partners like H-E-B and Southwestern Energy. The group is also building new partnerships with institutions like the Alief Independent School District and the University of Houston.

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