A rather public weight loss competition among two prominent city leaders came to a close today, but organizers say broader efforts are just beginning.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Kansas City Chamber of Commerce CEO, Jim Heeter, have spent the last five months watching what they eat and trying to get in better shape. In June, they challenged each other publicly to see who could lose more weight and body fat.
Jim Heeter (by a small margin).
James now owes him dinner (a healthy one).
Even so, James says he also came out victorious.
“I think it has been a very worthwhile endeavor,” says James. “It has changed the way I approach my week in terms of what I eat, in terms of the activities. It has made me very much aware of the things we’re trying to attack: blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels, heart disease, obesity.”
The region has high rates of those chronic diseases, all of which can be affected by lifestyle. James says he hopes their personal efforts will encourage others to give it a try. For him, public accountability and peer pressure made a big difference.
In the next few weeks, the city, the chamber and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City plan to roll out a broader initiative - modeled after this one - that will target area businesses.
"The mayor and I plan on continuing this," says Heeter. "We picked up good, healthy habits. You can count on us continuing, and I hope others will do the same."
This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes KCUR , NPR and Kaiser Health News.
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