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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Health experts in Fort Worth say they have seen a drop in the number of obese children and the number of children at risk of being obese.

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This comes as the mayor launches a month-long challenge to students to eat better and exercise.

Fort Worth ISD officials say having the mayor pushing the health message encourages students to take health lessons outside the classroom.

“It allows them to understand that they are not alone and that they have the mayor of the city, I believe it’s the 17th largest (city), who’s actually knows what’s going on at schools and so that really helps,” said FWISD Director of Health and Physical Education Georgi Roberts.

The goals of the mayor’s challenge are 60 minutes of daily exercise, five helpings of fruits and vegetables a day along with six to eight glasses of water.

This year, they’re also adding total minutes of time reading a day to the mix as well. The competition is a month long, but one of the goals is for students to take those lessons learned at school, home with them.

“I’m trying to get the messaging out from the classroom, where kids are learning about what to do, to the parents and the community so that we can support them,” Roberts said.

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“That’s one of the most critical pieces for education and for children’s health is that they see it modeled with their family and they talk about it,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said.

At the end of the month long competition the top schools are recognized. But the health and fitness lessons go on year round.

And after five years of the mayor’s challenge and other fitness programs, the district says it has seen success in the battle against child obesity.

“We have been saying that 5 percent of them who were obese or were at risk of obesity are now at normal weight, but we were just told today that 6 percent of the kids we’ve been tracking her now at normal weight,” Mayor Price said.

“I’d like to take credit for it. I know the mayor would like to take credit for it,” Roberts said. “But if anybody can take credit for it is that our community is taking care of our kids.”

There is a reward for the top schools in the mayor’s challenge. They’ll get a visit from Mayor Price and $1,000 to spend on PE equipment.

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