Lighten Up East Texas has begun the weigh-in period for its annual weight-loss challenge.
The challenge's official kickoff is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Broadway Square Mall, Terrence Ates, public information officer for Fit City Tyler, announced Thursday.
Fit City Tyler, a coalition of groups created to combat rising obesity rates, launched Lighten Up East Texas in 2013 as an incentive for people to lose weight.
Participants who lose at least 5 percent of their weight are eligible to win prizes.
People who want to take part can register and weigh in at the mall. A list of other registration/weigh-in sites is posted on the Lighten Up East Texas website, LUET.org.
Participants also are encouraged to create weight-loss teams. Teams are awarded prizes based on combined percentages of weight lost.
The weigh-in period remains open through Feb. 28. Participants must weigh-out by returning to a weighing location before April 30.
The drawings for prizes will take place May 10 on the downtown square. A top prize of $5,000 will be awarded to one man and woman.
George Roberts, head of NET Health, the region's public health district, which was instrumental in launching Lighten Up East Texas, said that since 2013 thousands have participated in the challenge and the average weight loss is 8.5 pounds.
People who are overweight are at increased risks for heart disease, high blood pressure and other health problems, Roberts said.
Eating a healthy diet and exercising are keys to losing weight, he said.
The rules and list of sponsors are found at lightenupeasttexas.com.