Scale Back Alabama Weighs In

The state of Alabama is a lot lighter these days, thanks to a statewide weight loss initiative called Scale Back Alabama.

It started in January. During a 10-week period, people have signed up, teams formed, and weight has been dropped, to the tune of 207,871 pounds.

Organizers in Sumter County say they have reached almost half of their goal already.

"Well, we wanted everybody to lose to pounds which would've been 1,600," said coordinator Dot Turner, who is also a nurse. "But we didn't quite make it. But we were close."

In all, the 160 participants in Sumter County lost 574 pounds. Leading the pack in this effort was Alexis Smith and Drew Willis, who both lost 27 pounds.

"It was refreshing because it was the first time I had some success losing weight," said Smith. "And me and my teammates are going to stick to it."

"Last year I did it for the wrong reason, I think," said Willis. "I just focused on the money and this year it's about a change of life. A change of my devotions and my lifestyle."

Health care officials in west Alabama said weight loss is not just an option but a must. In Sumter County more than 70% of the residents suffer from diabetes or hypertension, disorders that can be related to obesity.

Health care officials say, with the higher number of cases of diabetes and hypertension now affecting all ages, that also increases the risk of people suffering from side effects such as possible blindness, limb loss and heart disease.

Participants in the Scale Back Alabama Initiative say, although it has ended, they are into healthy living for the long haul.

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