As a member of the Mayor’s Fitness Council, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished to help San Antonio become a fitter city.  Consider these major initiatives:

  • The bi-annual Siclovia celebrations promoting a day of outdoor fitness
  •  The weekly Fitness in the Park free group exercise classes at city parks on all sides of town
  •  The Neighborhood Walking Groups taking root across the community
  •  The school-based initiatives encouraging sharing of best practices among school districts to encourage a lifetime of healthy eating and fitness

Obviously, San Antonio is taking a pro-active approach to health and fitness. Still, we have a long way to go to reach our goal, which is to make San Antonio one of the healthiest and most active cities in the nation.

With all that said, it feels a bit sticking a pin in a balloon at a children’s party to read the recent headlines touting San Antonio as the second-fattest major city in the nation with a population of at least 1 million. This according to a Gallup Poll of 189 Metropolitan Statistical Areas, or MSAs (this would include San Antonio and surrounding communities).

Some 31.1 percent of San Antonio-area residents in the MSA are obese, ranking us behind Memphis, Tenn. at 31.9 percent, according to Gallup. In Bexar County, the obesity rate stands at 28.5 percent, which is higher than the Texas average of 26 percent.

The numbers alone don’t tell the whole story, however. The obesity rate has actually dropped between 2010 and 2012.  What we all are doing to fight the problem is making a difference.

But we must do more. You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating: The obesity problem is one that costs us not only in our overall health and well-being, it has real economic impact in terms of rising healthcare costs and reduced productivity. It leads to high rates of diabetes among a younger and younger population, high blood pressure and high cholesterol which can lead to heart disease, liver disease, fertility problems and more.

So we will continue to push a multi-faceted strategy for combating the obesity issue. And we should consider reasonable new campaigns like one being proposed by the director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Dr. Thomas Schlenker.

Dr. Schlenker wants to organize an active, voluntary campaign to reduce consumption of sugary sodas (and I’d advocate including a list of so-called energy drinks in this campaign, but that requires more space than we have to delve into today). About 2 out of 3 Bexar County residents drink sodas daily, but the numbers have been dwindling in recent years.

Keep in mind Dr. Schlenker is not calling for a city ordinance to ban sodas or for a sin tax on them. It’s very likely that consumption could be further curtailed with a good educational campaign funded by non-profit groups and healthcare organizations.

It’s a proposal worth serious consideration because it will help the larger problem. You can start by substituting water for soda at your next meal where you would normally drink a cola.

The other thing you can do is consider signing up for the Million Pound Challenge at The campaign began in February to get the city to lose 1 million pounds by November. So far, we’ve lost more than 25,000 pounds a month. Help us reach our goal by adding your weight loss story to the mix.

Save the Date: The next Siclovia is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 28 when it will return to its Broadway route from 10 am to 3 pm. Visit for the latest.


Dr. Annette “Doctor Z Md” Zaharoff heads the Non-Surgical Center of Texas, focusing on non-surgical alternatives to relieve pain and repair injuries. A former professional tennis player who competed in the WTC circuit, Dr. Zaharoff remains actively involved with the US Tennis Association. Learn more about her at