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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Local residents lighten up through new state program

Monday, April 14, 2003

Sioux Rapids '2 Fat' team logs 516 miles average

Iowans in Storm Lake, Sioux Rapids and across the state have lost an amount of weight nearly equivalent to that of 12 cars through a new program designed to help promote healthy activity and better eating habits.

Ten Buena Vista County groups have joined hundreds of individuals and teams from all 99 counties in Iowa who are actively participating in Lighten Up Iowa, a five-month endeavor sponsored by Iowa State University Extension, the Iowa Games and the Iowa Department of Public Health. Participants can compete in either weight loss or accumulated activity categories, and track their activity weekly and send in those numbers to the main LUI database, where they can compare their progress with teams from around the state.

At the midway point of the program, reporting teams have lost a combined 11.5 tons of weight and have accumulated more than one million miles of activity, numbers Ruth Litchfield, a nutrition specialist with ISU Extension and one of the coordinating members of the LUI program, said were great to see.

"(LUI) has surpassed all of our expectations," Litchfield said. "The number of participants is more than we ever dreamed of, and we've also been getting excellent response from the participants as far as monthly reports."

Lighten Up Iowa began as a pilot project of the Iowa Games last year, as members of that organization were spurred to action by data that showed Iowa ranked as the 10th heaviest state and the 24th least active state, both concerning figures.

Litchfield said the LUI effort was a hit last year with participants in central Iowa, and organizers decided to expand the project to the entire state this year. Team members hail from each county in Iowa in 2003, and Litchfield said that was extremely important, particularly to allow people from rural areas such as Buena Vista County to have a connection with people in more urban areas.

"Our intent was to start something that had statewide appeal," Litchfield said. "We didn't want to target just rural areas like northwest Iowa or urban areas like Des Moines or Cedar Rapids. We wanted to make sure everyone in Iowa could get involved, and that's what has happened."

The grassroots feel of the organization has also helped boost its popularity, Litchfield said.

"In any organization, and especially in one like this, being able to have a local feel is pretty important," Litchfield said. "To have people from Storm Lake and other places organize teams themselves and have control helps out the whole effort."

Litchfield said she was unable to provide names of individuals on teams due to confidentiality reasons, but was able to give team information, including the number of miles of activity and percentage of weight lost by many of the groups.

The Sioux Rapids-based Sioux Central Tele Tubbies have lost 5.26 percent of their total starting weight over the past 10 weeks, while the Wannabes and the Phat Busters from Storm Lake have each lost more than three percent of their group's weight. Each member of the Sioux Rapids group 2 Fat, 2 Old, But Not Too Late has averaged 516.30 miles of activity, which includes walking, biking and playing sports. Each member of The Sage Seven of Storm Lake has averaged more than 305 miles of activity, while Elem NOP of Sioux Rapids has averaged 274.60 miles of activity per member.

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