City leaders across Texas are challenging each other, and challenging their communities, to lose weight and lead healthier lifestyles for both personal and economically practical reasons.

It’s Time Texas, a non-profit in Austin, sponsors health improvement programs throughout the state. One of those initiatives is the Community Challenge, running Jan. 8 through March 4, where Texans sign up for free online and contribute their fitness and weight-loss efforts to a community total.

As of Monday, more than 9,000 individuals were involved in 212 communities, with a total weight loss to date of nearly 2,700 pounds.

Mayors and city leaders are spearheading the effort, like Mayor Harry LaRosiliere of Plano, who, in an online video, challenged his mentor, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.

“Mayor Betsy Price, my big sis, I’m calling you out!" LaRosiliere said. "This is our sibling rivalry."

“Mayor LaRosiliere from Plano threw the gauntlet down for Fort Worth," Price told WFAA. "We’ll beat Harry."

It's Time Texas CEO Baker Harrell said the effort isn't just for individuals — it's to improve the health of their communities as a whole.

“And it’s really not weight loss, necessarily,” Price said. “Ideally, that’s the effect, but the idea is just to get a little more fit.”

Because Texas has a problem.

Studies show that approximately 33.7 percent of us in Texas are considered obese. Measured by a person’s BMI, or Body Mass Index, someone is considered obese when their BMI is more than 30.

For example, someone six-feet tall (72 inches) and 230 pounds would have a BMI of 31.2. [(230 divided by 72)] times 703 = BMI of 31.2.

By that measurement, and comparison with the rest of the United States, Texas is considered the 8th fattest state in the country. West Virginia has the dubious honor as the most obese state. Colorado is the leanest.

“But the good news is we created this state, we’ve created this situation that we’re in," Harrell said. "And we can create our way out of it."

And there are practical business and economic reasons for encouraging healthier lifestyles, too. Businesses are often reluctant to relocate to a place where their workforce is considered unhealthy, and costly, because of it.

Mayor Price knows that first-hand.

“I mean, look at a big corporation like Amazon that’s looking to relocate,” she said of the recent announcement that DFW is one of the final 20 metro locations being considered as home to Amazon’s second corporate headquarters. “One of the things they want is trails and an active lifestyle and a healthy community.”

Mayor Price is doing her part. She ran 10 miles on Saturday, planned her usual exercise bike outing Tuesday, and is training for a half-marathon.

So, a non-profit based in Austin hopes you’ll follow her example: log on, sign up, and agree to lead a healthier lifestyle.

“To show their pride for their state, for their community and demonstrate their commitment to health,” said Harrell, hoping Texans will want to help their city win a title and maybe build a healthier and profitable Texas at the same time.

For more information, visit It's Time Texas' website.