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DALLAS - When it comes to health and wellness, one Dallas City Council member made a public promise to make a change Thursday.

District 4 Councilman Dwaine Caraway said he is at his heaviest weight ever. He's now challenging himself, city workers, and residents to join him on a path to a healthy lifestyle.

'I've been having so many aches,' Caraway said during a rare moment outside City Hall, and in session with his physical therapist. 'I've had to listen to my body, because it's been talking to me.'

The councilman said he's been having a lot of foot problems and back pains recently. Troubling aches that Caraway believes were brought on by weight gain.

'I'm heavier than I've ever been before,' he said.

Caraway said his body's condition and desire for better health is part of the reason he held a news conference Thursday to announce a major health challenge.

At one point, Caraway stepped on a scale to reveal his weight and tried on jackets to demonstrate how they could no longer button due to unhealthy eating habits.

'What I want to do is challenge every city employee,' Caraway said. 'I want to challenge every citizen of the city. I want to challenge every preacher.'

With his health challenge, Caraway announced he will spend the next two months working with a team that will keep him on the path to fitness. That team includes a personal trainer, a nutritionist, the city's wellness program, and Dr. Sunjay Wagle of University General Hospital of Dallas.

'The size of someone's waist is the strongest predictor of early mortality,' Dr. Wagle said. 'So just measuring someone's waist is the first step.'

During the news conference, City Manager A.C. Gonzalez said Dallas spends about $120 million on benefits to hospitals. Gonzalez said 80 percent of those expenditures are for conditions or illnesses linked to nutrition or lifestyle choices.

Caraway and his accountability team say a community effort in proper and good health will save lives and make a difference in the city of Dallas.

The councilman is hoping his promise could help him ease some of his personal health issues.

E-mail dfernandez@wfaa.com

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