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Mayor And Business Leader Expand Weight-Loss Effort

Elana Gordon

A very personal yet public weight loss competition between two prominent city leaders is getting bigger. About two dozen area CEOs have signed up for the challenge.

Last summer, Kansas City Mayor Sly James and local Chamber of Commerce CEO Jim Heeter faced off, publicly, to see who could lose more weight and become healthier. Heeter won, though by a small margin. And while the one-on-one competition is over, the two now want to expand their efforts.

James and Heeter have invited other city and business leaders to participate in 'phase two' of what they're calling the "Not So Big KC" campaign.

27 area CEOs, or about a third of the chamber's board, have heeded the call.

Over the next six months, participants will be tracked on various health measures. They’ll also have access to fitness and nutrition resources.

The challenge won't lead to a declared winner. There won't be any prizes, either. 

But Matthew Condon, who heads the chamber’s health council, issued a kind of battle cry at Tuesday’s launch as to why business leaders need to be involved and set the example.

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. And we've got to do something different," Condon said. "This is the definition of insanity when we look at health care costs: 95 percent of our costs are spent on treatment and 5 percent on prevention. The people who will change that are employers, and people in this room and communities like this one. So this is where leaders lead."

Condon warned that the region is in trouble if something doesn’t change.  Already about one in three adults are overweight or obese, and the numbers are only expected to grow.


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