Games issue challenge to curb growing waistlines

Show-Me Shape Up begins at the ARC today.
Monday, January 10, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:31 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Sixty percent of Missouri adults were overweight or obese in a 2002 study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

And it’s a problem that persists.

That’s is why the Show-Me State Games is sponsoring the third annual Show-Me Shape Up, a five-month competition that encourages Missourians to eat better and take on healthier activities with the goal of shedding weight.

“Starting an exercise program and following through is tough to do if you do not know how,” Show-Me State Games spokeswoman Jennifer Coffman said.

With this program, “You get the professional expertise to learn how to improve your health and fitness, and you get the motivational component of doing it as a team,” she said.

Missourians can form teams of up to 10 people and with an entry fee of $10 can choose whether they want to enter the weight-loss category, the accumulated-activity category, or both.

At today’s kickoff, weight-loss teams will hop on an extra-large scale to weigh in together. The goal is for the entire team to lose weight, making the process a little easier for the individual, Coffman said.

Accumulated-activity teams will begin recording how many exercise miles participants jog, bike or even walk.

Mayor Darwin Hindman and Jerome Sally, ex-NFL football player turned teacher, will speak at the free kickoff at the ARC starting at noon.

Michelle Windmoeller was captain of the “Hatchet Man Escaped!” team that won first place in the accumulated-activity category last year. She competed with her mother, father and husband, and said the contest was fun.

“I really do think the team aspect kept us motivated through the tough winter season,” Windmoeller said.

Coordinators of the Show-Me State Games got the idea from an Iowa competition dubbed “Lighten Up Iowa” that encourages similar healthy habits. Now more than 35 states have similar low-pressure weight-loss competitions.

Coordinators are hoping for 5,000 participants, up significantly from 1,200 in 2004. Last year, 170 teams from across the state dropped a total of 3,152 pounds and traveled 251,587 exercise miles.

During the competition, the group will sponsor meetings, hold brown bag lunches and distribute a newsletter with exercise tips and healthy recipes.

Winning teams are those who lose the highest percentage of weight or accumulate the most exercise miles over the five months.

“This program is based soundly in good, healthy principles, and until we get all Missourians on board with this program we’re not through,” Coffman said.

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