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Scale Back Alabama helps people lose and win

In July 2008, the state of Alabama was ranked second in the nation with 30.3 percent of its adults having a body mass index of greater than 30. To help combat obesity in the state, health officials announced that Scale Back Alabama 2009 is about to begin.

Scale Back Alabama is a statewide competition that encourages people to eat better and exercise more to lose weight, and there is no cost to participate.

The contest begins on Saturday, Jan. 10, and involves people age 18 or older competing in teams of four. The 10-week contest begins with a weigh-in followed by weekly classes over the next eight weeks. It culminates with a final weigh-in.

Teams having each of its four members lose 10 pounds are eligible for the drawing of one of 50 achievement prizes of $100 each, and are also eligible for a drawing for one of three grand prizes on April 1. The cash grand prizes are for $1,000, $500 and $250.

Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital in Demopolis is one of the weigh-in sites taking part in Scale Back America. This is the third year for the hospital to take part in the program and the second year for it to be open to the general public.

“We’re going to kick it off with a health fair on Friday, Jan. 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the main lobby,” said hospital public relations director Chrissy Brooker. “That way, everybody can get their baselines to start from. We’ll do cholesterol, blood pressure, blood-sugar, weight and body mass index and have all of that up front.

“When the 10-week program is over, we’ll have another one, so they can see how well they did.”

The initial weigh-in week will begin Jan. 10 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Jan. 12-16 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Team members do not need to weigh in at the same time, although they may, if they wish. They do need to know their team captain’s name and the name of their team. Participants will register when they initially weigh in.

The classes will also be held at the hospital every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the hospital’s classroom.

“The classes will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 20,” said Betsy Adams, director of the BWWMH Wellness Center. “They’re brief; they last about 30 minutes. They will cover topics like setting goals and weight-loss tips, eating more fruits and vegetables, rethinking TV time and being more physically active every day, and then putting it all together.”

Handouts and door prizes will also be a part of the classes.

“The total weight loss by everybody last year was more than 1,500 pounds,” said Betsy Adams, director of the BWWMH Wellness Center. “We had 280 people last year.

Roger Shultz, a finalist on “The Biggest Loser” TV program, will serve as the chief coach for the statewide competition. The program’s goal is to have people lose a total of a half-million pounds statewide. Weigh-in sites across the state can be found at www.scalebackalabama.com.

Scale Back Alabama helps people loss weight in a fun, competitive way. While the cash prizes are certainly an incentive, even if a team doesn’t come in among the top winners, it still wins — when it loses.