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Small town mayor issues big weight loss challenge

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The mayor of the small Southern California city of Duarte, on historic Route 66, has issued a big challenge to its residents to lose big amounts of weight as a small step in getting them to be more conscious of health-related problems caused by overweight and obesity.

Mayor Margaret Finlay initiated a “Biggest Loser” challenge in early February which will end in a grand finale weigh-in on March 29. She hopes the idea will gain acceptance across the country.

The mayor has lost 40 pounds over the last few years, and she wants to spread the word that being overweight or obese is a national problem that leads to a host of health problems. She’s especially concerned about childhood obesity, which is one of the reasons she started the contest. Finlay reasons that if adults get into the swing of losing weight and maintaining their weight loss they'll pass that awareness down to their children. Obese adults are teaching their children bad eating habits, Finlay said.

The contest is open to all Duarte residents, 16 and older. Weigh-ins are held in the strictest confidence. The winner will be able to choose between $100 in cash Finlay has put up as a prize herself, or a year’s membership at the Duarte Fitness Center where she used the elliptical machines and participates in aerobics classes.

Her goal is to drop another 25 pounds.

Councilwoman Lois Gaston enthusiastically got in on the “losing” band wagon ahead of the start of the competition, and said she’s already lost five pounds.

"I'm expecting to become a healthy person because of it," she told the Pasadena Star News. She said healthier citizens will be a cost savings for the city, county and state.

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