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Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Issues Statewide Weight Loss Challenge, Dismisses School Lunch Guidelines

Americans are undeniably getting fatter by the decade with the latest reports showing that more than half of U.S. adults in most states are now obese. In the face of such staggering statistics, one state governor is taking an unconventional stand. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has issued a weight loss challenge this week in an attempt to get Kansans more aware of their health.

According to Kansas Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser, M.D., the obesity rate in Kansas is near the national average. The state has seen a sizable increase in obesity as rates among adults have increased from 15 percent in 1995 to 30.1 percent in 2010. In addition, nearly one-third of all children are overweight or obese.

For this reason, and by his own initiative, Brownback is declaring an official weight loss challenge for stat employees that will take place between January 15 and May 15, 2013.

“My hope is that the Governor’s Weight Loss Challenge will encourage everyone to work together to make our state healthier,” said the governor in an official press release. “I am challenging teams of five people to compete against my team of five to lose the most percentage weight, with the ultimate goal of taking on and maintaining a healthier lifestyle for years to come.”

Employees of the state of Kansas who participate can expect a chance to win monetary prizes at the games’ end in May; the amounts have yet to be determined. Awards will go to the top two teams that beat the governor’s team of five, which is expected to be announced in December when competition sign up begins.

Non-state employees are also allowed to join. The governor invited employee groups from businesses and municipalities to accept the challenge as well and provide incentives for the competition winners, though they will not be eligible to win the monetary prizes offered to state employees.

Secretary Moser says the obesity rates in Kansas can be blamed on poor nutrition and physical inactivity, which together are considered the number two preventable causes of death behind tobacco use.

“There are many programs statewide that directly or indirectly support obesity prevention, and it’s in our homes and local communities where the great work to combat obesity can be achieved,” he said. “The Governor’s Weight Loss Challenge can help Kansans kick start their exercise routine and new eating habits while taking part in ongoing state- and local-level fitness and nutrition programs.”

The governor finds it’s a common desire to find new ways to be active and eat more healthfully in order to reduce our risk for diseases tied to being overweight and obese. He is hoping this challenge will be a great kick-start for Kansas state employees and citizens alike to make 2013 a year of healthy change.

Conversely, while some may see the recent updated school lunch guidelines as one very practical way to make healthy changes in the lives of our nation’s children, Governor Brownback seems dismissive of the issue.

The new guidelines, championed by Michelle Obama as part of the Let’s Move initiative, include a restricted calorie amount based on grade level, as well as the addition of more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. The revised guidelines have received backlash from parents and students alike since their release, primarily on account of there being not enough food to fuel student athletes.

Governor Brownback has heard similar sentiments from Kansas parents and said that while the goal of the guidelines is “laudable,” he views this as a “typical federal issue that just doesn’t fit all circumstances.”

We contacted the governor’s office for comment but were denied a response.

Those seeking to participate in the governor’s weight loss challenge can visit weightloss.ks.gov where team registration begins December 17. This is also where teams will track their progress throughout the competition’s four month duration.

Also Read:

It’s Expensive Being Obese 

NYC Soda Ban Passes; Soda Industry Plans to Fight 

USDA Rejects Bloomberg’s Food Stamp Soda Ban

source: Lawrence World Journal   

Brownback image via Fox

November 28th, 2012

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