TYLER, Texas —
An ally in the battle to improve East Texans health is ready to come back strong and with a focus on mental health after taking a pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dozens of health and wellness experts met Wednesday morning at the UT Tyler Health Science Center to chart the future of Fit City Tyler. The health advocacy group began in 2010 with a mission to promote healthier lifestyles at home, at work and at school.
The group has been taking a low-key approach during the last two years due to social distancing, but they’re now ready to tackle new areas of fitness.
George Roberts, Fit City Tyler founder and Northeast Texas Public Health District CEO, said the group is shifting its focus toward mental health issues.
"We are really going to start focusing on the idea of mental fitness. So you want to continue the whole idea of physical fitness, but how can we work with mental health as well," Roberts said. "So combining physical health and mental health together in a thing called mental fitness."
Roberts said while Fit City Tyler’s first decade had many positive impacts on fitness there’s still a lot of work to do. The obesity rate in Smith County has gone up from 28% in 2010 to 38% in 2020.
Smith County was recently ranked in the top 25% of US counties for health outcomes and health factors by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Fit City Tyler's challenges have included the weight loss contest Lighten Up East Texas, the Healthiest Workplaces in Tyler and the 5-2-1-0 initiative.
The 5-2-1-0 encourages kids to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, limit screen time to two hours, get one hour of physical activity and drink zero sugary beverages each day.