WalletHub study calls McAllen, Mission and Edinburg the “fattest cities in America”

This article originally appeared in the Progress Times article dated Friday, April 15, 2019.

Statistically, the United States has one of the largest obese populations in the world, and Workout Anytime is hoping to make healthy living more accessible.

WalletHub, an online financial advisor, recently conducted a study in order to analyze how obesity-related medical costs are rising in the country.

wallethubGathering data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, County Health Rankings, United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, Gallup-Sharecare, Trust for America’s Health and WalletHub research, the study was conducted by comparing “100 of the most populated U.S. metro areas across 19 key indicators of weight-related problems.”

In this study, the Hidalgo County area, specifically Edinburg, McAllen and Mission, were ranked as the fattest cities in the country. It cites the availability of fast food and cheap but unhealthy grocery alternatives as a couple of factors working against the health of the area.

McAllen, Mission and Edinburg have the highest percentage of obese and physically inactive adults, and the third-highest percentage of diabetic adults in the nation according to WalletHub. Hidalgo County has taken measures to address these issues.

Several programs, funded by the county, state and federal levels, are currently available at the Hidalgo County Health Department for those seeking help with improving their health. The issues stemming from high obesity rates have been targeted by the department for years.

After the discovery of the study by WalletHub Workout Anytime, a gym franchise that aims to provide a 24-hour seven-day-a-week fitness concept, has set a goal to keep the county’s “future wellness in mind” and open 12 new facilities across the area in the next three to four years.

“We look for what we call the underserved market,” Workout Anytime Senior VP of Development Randy Trotter said. “We offer a high-value, low-price gym.”

Trotter said the basic plan at Workout Anytime ($19 per month) is more ideal for people who want access to a gym but don’t want to shell out a lot of money to get it.

“They don’t want to pay a lot of money to work out, and they don’t want to pay a lot of money for amenities they don’t use, such as swimming pools and racquetball courts, and juice bars and all kinds of stuff,” Trotter said. “It’s a month-to-month contract.”

Trotter added that long-term contracts are usually a deterrent for people getting gym memberships, so the month-by-month contract allows people to discontinue use at any time. The basic contract gets a person into any Workout Anytime gym in the country, at 175 locations so far.

“In your neck of the woods, we’re mostly in Dallas and Fort Worth,” Trotter said. “We’ve had some of our guys at Dallas/Fort Worth wanting to expand, and they’ve pretty much run out of space in those markets.”

Through their assessment of Hidalgo County, McAllen, San Juan, Pharr and Mercedes would be some of the best locations for the first expansion of Workout Anytime in the area. They hope to open two locations near grocery stores within the end of year.

“We want to provide our members with a great environment and a clean place to work out, and convenience,” Trotter said. “We’re looking at locations all over your county.”
Workout Anytime also offers tanning, hydro massages and personal training. They’ve also started a “hometown hero” program, and potential owners of a Workout Anytime who qualify in the area will receive a $10,000 franchise fee discount.

“With our memberships, it does open it up to more of the population because of the affordability,” Trotter said. “When we have someone that does want to go into business with us, we will absolutely help them find real estate, help them negotiate a lease, get them really good training here at our Atlanta office, help them open their own business and hopefully help out the community.”

A list of programs and contact for the Hidalgo County Health Department can be found at this address: https://www.hidalgocounty.us/1032/Health-and-Human-Services.

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