Escalating health care costs are an issue of concern for health professionals, employers and insurance companies. The United States spends more on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world, but citizens are not the healthiest. Employees with more risk factors: being overweight, smoking and having diabetes, not only cost more to insure, they also pay more for health care.
The City of Houston is taking part in a 90-day Wellness Challenge in a program of diet and fitness to promote a healthy lifestyle. Mayor Annise Parker has agreed to lead the challenge that pits members of the corporate community.
"Our commitment is for 90 days, and in 90 days you create new habits. This is not something that happens overnight. We're going to see how we do. I'll certainly be frank about my struggles as I go through it, and I assume that the corporate sector folks will as well, and we hope that we can inspire other Houstonians to try and do the same thing."
The city will get help over the next three months with diet and nutrition — what to eat and not to eat, and with trainers and instructors who will help with exercise. Mayor Parker says it's about setting the example.
"Not all of us have the same goals. It's not a weight-loss challenge. It's not an exercise challenge. It's a wellness challenge and what wellness means for each one of us is individual."
Robert Davenport is a personal trainer who will be helping Mayor Parker and members of council.
"We have donated the personal training time, two days a week for ninety days. There's no cost to them. There's no excuse. There's no reason not to do it. The University of Houston has the interns that are now going to track them. They'll have to be responsible to somebody. So we'll be able to track through that situation, so it's kind of hard when you're in the public to step back from that and say I quit."
Councilmember Clarence Bradford will also take the challenge. He hopes to help elevate the sense of awareness about an overall healthy lifestyle.
"If we cheat, guess who suffers the sanction? We do. You cheat yourself. So the state of wellness is about longevity. We work hard. We have loved ones we want to be with for a long period of time, so hopefully we can set a good example throughout the city of Houston, public sector and private sector, that everyone should be concerned about the overall state of wellness."
In many instances, a change in health habits drives greater improvements in performance than would a reduction in risk factors. More information can be found at www.ghwcc.org.