updated 1/2/2004 6:05:45 PM ET 2004-01-02T23:05:45

Houston, judged the nation’s fattest for the past three years, is starting to look thinner — but only when it’s measured against Detroit.

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Houston is now the second-fattest city among 25 compared by Men’s Fitness magazine in its February issue, due out this month.

The scales tipped Detroit’s way because of a jump in television viewing, a worsening commute time and a scarcity of gyms, the magazine said.

Houston officials were pleased, although the sixth annual survey made it clear their city still could stand to lose more than a few pounds.

“We were just ecstatic to not be the fattest city,” said Lee Labrada, a former Mr. Universe, who was named Houston’s first fitness czar in 2002.

The Detroit Health Department and mayor’s office did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment Friday.

Men’s Fitness uses 14 categories to determine the fattest cities, including the number of health clubs and sporting goods stores and the number of fast food and ice cream and doughnut shops per capita, air quality, climate, television viewing trends and availability of health care.

Texas had five of the 10 fattest cities, including Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Arlington. Others in the top 10 were Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Columbus.

On a separate list ranking the fittest locales, Honolulu was again No. 1.

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