Houston takes a healthy approach to fight obesity

Houston Mayor Annise Parker is promoting an initiative that could lead more residents to pursue healthy lifestyles. While a large number of newcomers relocate to the city and purchase homes for sale in Houston, the mayor's program may impact these people and long-time residents.

Parker unveiled Healthy Houston on September 12, 2012, and the initiative was designed to help lower obesity rates in the city. By encouraging Houston citizens to eat right and exercise, the area may be able to trim the fat on its consumption of unhealthy foods.

"We know obesity is a significant health threat in our city," Parker said. "We want to tackle this issue with innovative ideas and thinking to help Houstonians make smart decisions to lead healthy lifestyles, prevent problems before they occur, lower healthcare costs and increase productivity and quality of life."

A team of Rice University researchers found that there is a rising concern among local citizens about the availability of affordable food and locally produced items. Additionally, Food Trust recently discovered that Houston has fewer supermarkets per capita than many of America's large metropolitan areas.

While the mayor's initiative could lead more people to reconsider their eating and exercise habits, many opportunities are currently available to help Houston residents get healthy.

Houston farmers markets
Many cities and towns have farmers markets that give residents the chance to buy products from local vendors. In Houston, citizens can access a wide selection of farmers markets that sell fruit, jams, jellies, vegetables and more.

For example, the City Hall Farmers Market is held in the downtown. The tradition began in October 2010, and now boasts 40 vendors who sell produce, cheese, prepared foods and more. This farmers market that takes place every Wednesday from September to December.

The Healthy Houston Foundation
The Healthy Houston is a local nonprofit organization that strives to provide affordable healthcare to uninsured and underinsured residents. This foundation offers grants to help clinics in Harris County become federally qualified health centers, which would allow them to better serve local citizens.

McClatchy notes that Houston is one of the metros with the highest rates of uninsured citizens in the United States. Healthcare reform is a contentious issue across the country, and Healthy Houston is dedicating resources to help local residents receive adequate medical coverage.