Fort Worth

Are Fort Worth's Efforts to Get People Fit Making a Difference?

Concerns that Fort Worth had among the highest obesity rates in the country led to an effort to transform the city into "Fit Worth." But have the goals put out by city leaders two years ago made a difference?

One of the clearest signs of the Mayor's Challenge to get Fort Worth moving is the bike-sharing stations visible around town. Most of the bikes were still sitting checked-in when NBC 5 looked around on Wednesday. But even on a hot day, there were other signs of people and businesses dedicating to a healthier life.

Instead of ordering a side of fries, a group of downtown Fort Worth employees was out taking orders like, "Take a lap!" during a lunch-break boot camp on Wednesday.

"It's just a really easy way to get a workout in in the middle of the day and you feel refreshed when you come back, and it's great," said Kristina Schwartzkopf.

Her employer offers free gym memberships, part of a growing Fort Worth trend. The Mayor's Challenge now has 20 companies signed on, using incentives to get more than 2,000 workers moving.

City Club trainer Sally Greenwood thinks it's working.

"I've seen a big difference. I feel like people are getting more into their fitness, more into their diet and especially at the noon class, due to work," said Greenwood.

Of course that doesn't mean the lines have stopped at Fort Worth's fast food restaurants and not everyone believes city government can change people's health.

"Me, I don't like to be told, 'Hey, you gotta do this, you gotta do that.' If I want to eat some Mexican food, I'm gonna eat some Mexican food," said Fort Worth resident Raul Hernandez.

Kristen Whelcher added, "Sometimes when it's the only affordable thing, it's what you gotta eat."

But if you've seen the get-healthy banners and bikes around town and felt inspired you're not alone. Megan Lemmons has lost 84 pounds in the last 18 months and said the city's "Fit Worth" push helps keep her going.

"The bikes that are available, more gyms are available. The cheaper prices for people to be able to work out, that's helped me with getting a gym membership and staying fit," said Lemmons.

The push started with children, getting involved in the Fort Worth schools. Since Mayor Betsy Price took office in 2011, the city's childhood obesity rate has gone down 4 percent, but it's still at 54 percent so there is a lot of work left to be done.

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