McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Three cities and three school districts on the South Texas border have won the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge statewide health initiative in different categories, and yet the region remains one of the most obese in the nation.

Trophies were passed out Wednesday at McAllen City Hall for the City of McAllen, which won in the large city category for 2022 — it’s fifth win in a row for the annual challenge.

McAllen Independent School District also won in the medium school district category and was given $1,500 to be used in schools to promote health and wellness.

Trophies for winning large city and medium school districts were presented Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at McAllen City Hall in the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge, in which several Rio Grande City communities and school districts won in various categories. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

In the neighboring city of Pharr, Texas, trophies also were passed out to the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, which won for large school districts; and for the City of Pharr, which won for medium communities category.

The Gulf Coast city of Los Fresnos, Texas, won in the small city category. And its school district, Los Fresnos CISD, also won for small school districts, according to It’s Time Texas officials.

Amy McGeady, CEO of the Austin-based nonprofit It’s Time Texas, says the Rio Grande Valley consistently wins in the challenge and the South Texas border community are among the most enthusiastic participants.

The It’s Time Texas Community Challenge is a free 8-week health challenge that begins in January. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

“The City of McAllen is really unique in terms of the level of enthusiasm, the commitment to health,” McGeady told Border Report. “This city and this community are really committed to living healthier lives, building healthier communities and doing it together.”

The City of McAllen, in fact, racked up more participation points than any city in the entire state during the 8-week free online challenge that began in January.

Yet the region continues to be hit with a high rate of obesity and diabetes and other ailments attributed to unhealthy living.

For 2020 and 2021, WalletHub named the metroplex of McAllen, Edinburg and Mission, as the fattest cities in the United States for both years.

McAllen City Commissioner Omar Quintanilla stands in front of five trophies Wednesday, May 4, 2022, that the City of McAllen has won consecutively since 2018 for the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

“We’re number one for diabetes, hypertension, lack of access to health care, least level of education and awareness, and poverty,” Dr. Ivan Melendez, Hidalgo County Health Authority, told Border Report in January after the latest ranking were released. “It’s a five or six-horned problem and, yeah, we’re aware of it and we’re not surprised.”

McAllen City Commissioner Omar Quintanilla said the fact that the City of McAllen beat out larger cities like Austin and Houston and San Antonio in the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge, again, means the region cares about its health and fitness.

“This is the fifth year in a row that the city of McAllen wins the ITT Community challenge. This is a statewide initiative where communities throughout the state are encouraged to live a healthier life either by being more active or healthier eating choice,” Quintanilla told Border Report after putting the city’s fifth trophy on a shelf at City Hall.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com