MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - In 2009 "Cutting the fat" takes on a whole new meaning for Governor Bob Riley's Cabinet and staff members. The state employees are in competition with their counterparts in 12 other states across the country to trim their waistlines.
The contest, called the Capitol Steps Challenge, is aimed at bringing into focus America's growing obesity crisis.
For two weeks the men and women from each state's team - Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, North Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin - will endure a physical challenge.
"This is the first time governors have joined together in a national effort to raise awareness about the impact obesity has on our health," said Jeff Emerson, Communications Director for Governor Riley. "In the last 20 years, obesity rates across the nation have risen dramatically. This health threat is especially great in Alabama, where today 30 percent of adults are obese. Our participation in this competition underlines the Riley Administration's commitment to reversing this trend."
So how are the teams going to compete? Each team member will track the number of steps they take each day using a pedometer. Everyone is being encouraged to walk as many steps as possible each day to at least meet the Center for Disease Control's guideline for adult physical activity. The CDC recommends every adult should walk at least 7,000 daily.
And like every race, there is a prize at the finish line. The state that walks the most will receive a $50,000 donation from Sir Richard Branson to help combat childhood obesity.
The contest is part of Branson's Virgin HealthMiles' year-long initiative to bring obesity issues into the spotlight. Virgin HealthMiles is a provider of employee health programs.
"It's an honor for Virgin HealthMiles to work with Governor Riley and his cabinet to bring awareness to the important issue of improving the health and wellness of citizens across the country," said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles. "We're excited to be part of the Capitol Steps Challenge and look forward to providing a fun and engaging experience for governors and their teams across the nation."