If you called Rich Siler of Caldwell one of the biggest losers in the Treasure Valley, hed probably take it as a compliment because hes anything but a loser. Hes actually a winner a shining example of what people can do through personal strength and courage.
Siler lost 83 pounds last year and received the top prize for men ($3,000) in the Treasure Valley Weight Loss Challenge, sponsored by St. Lukes Humphreys Diabetes Center. Katheryn Harris of Kuna was the winner on the womens side, losing almost 100 pounds and 35 percent body fat. She attributes her success to sheer willpower.
Of course, there were many more losers in last years challenge. The 157 finalists (about 700 participated) lost a little more than 3,600 pounds while lowering their risk for diabetes and other diseases. According to Lisa Gonser, a spokeswoman at Humphreys, those who lose 5 percent to 10 percent of their weight reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes by 50 percent.
The value of that prize prospects for a longer life is far more than the cash incentive.
These losers get it. They know the devastation that can be caused by obesity diabetes, heart attacks, kidney and liver disease, to name a few. And they had the strength to take control of their lives.
Unfortunately, these folks are in the minority. According to a national poll, just 7 percent surveyed realize that obesity can lead to cancer and just 15 percent are aware that obesity can contribute to arthritis and joint pain. The long list of complications from obesity also include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and strokes.
A lot of people put weight loss at the top of their New Years resolutions. According to Gonser, shedding pounds is not that difficult: A combination of eating healthier and about 30 minutes of walking or light exercise will do it. It doesnt have to be done at once; parking a little farther away at the grocery store is one way to reduce the calories.
Kudos to Humphreys for sponsoring the Weight Loss Challenge and three cheers for the approximately 800 people who are expected to participate. Its not too late to sign up. Registration will be accepted through Jan. 20, with the final weigh-in scheduled in June.
Weight loss, of course, is important for personal health. But its also a pocketbook issue your pocketbook and ours.
Sixteen years ago, not a single state had an obesity rate of more than 15 percent. Now all states are above 15 percent and Idaho is above 25 percent. By 2030, its projected that all states will be above 44 percent, Idaho will be at 50 percent and some states will be above 60 percent. Those projections were released last year by the Trust for American Health and the Robert Wood Foundation, and are consistent with the information Humphreys receives.
If these projections hold true, the number of people with diabetes and heart-related diseases will go through the roof. Medicare, Medicaid and health care costs will skyrocket. We know of two ways to pay for all that: Significantly higher taxes or continued deficit spending.
We cannot rely on politicians or big government to solve the problem. People have to take action for themselves, and participation in the Treasure Valley Weight Loss Challenge is a good place to start.
As for Rich Siler, Katheryn Harris and others, theyre not losers. Theyre role models.
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