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A South Texas teenager is receiving statewide recognition for her efforts to not only adopt a healthier lifestyle for herself but for encouraging healthy weight loss in her community. According to a report by the Valley Morning Star, 17-year-old Danee Rodriguez of Hidalgo County was in Austin the evening of Sept. 15 to be honored at the Texas Health Champion Award Ceremony, an annual event hosted by the University of Texas to recognize individuals who take up the task of reducing obesity rates in their communities. The Weslaco High School senior first began to think about the need for healthier living in her community when she began losing weight for herself and adopting healthier habits. From there, Rodriguez looked to share her newfound desire for a healthier lifestyle with her community, which struggles with obesity. According to a 2013 Gallup Poll, the McAllen metro area is the most overweight in the United States. Rodriguez teamed up with a local chapter of Working on Wellness to host Weslaco High School Celebrates Wellness program. More than 600 teachers and students attended, where they learned nutritional information, healthier food choices, and were able to exercise on an obstacle course. The smashing success of the program has even inspired Rodriguez to further her efforts. Future plans at the school include a walking path, a second wellness night, and a monthly farmer’s market. UT’s Health Champion initiative was created with the intention of raising awareness of climbing obesity rates in Texas. The state has an obesity rate of 32 percent, making it the tenth most overweight state in the nation. Read More: Weight Loss Austin Texas