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20 Athens school employees sign up for weight loss

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — Will teachers and staff at Athens Middle make an A+ in shedding pounds?

That's the plan.

Twenty school employees signed up Monday at Athens-Limestone Hospital's Wellness Center to join Scale Back Alabama, a statewide challenge to see if Alabamians can lose 10 million pounds in eight weeks.

Athens-Limestone is among local hospitals participating in the program that 2003 American Idol, Ruben Studdard, the Alabama Department of Public Health and Barber Dairies also are sponsoring.

Studdard wants people to create teams of three to five to compete for a grand prize of $1,000 per person on the team that has the highest percentage weight loss.

One Athens Middle team has agreed to let The Daily follow its members' progress.

That team is named The Dy-ettes, pronounced diets, comprises team captain Allison Anderson, an eighth grade world history teacher; Principal Joe Jackson; Nana Garner, eighth grade science; Amanda Gibbs, eighth grade technology; and Angie Esco, seventh grade technology.

"We have a general awareness that for our overall health, we need to lose some weight," said Anderson. "So when our assistant principal read about this in the paper and asked the faculty if anyone was interested, we ended up with five teams."

Rhonda Steen, director of the Wellness Center, said Alabama ranks as the second most obese state in the nation. Obesity, she said, can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

To see if the Athens Middle staff is losing weight, the school nurse will weigh team members each Friday. The Dy-ettes plan to have Monday afternoon briefings about their progress.

The school has a makeshift exercise room, Anderson said, where team members plan to exercise after school.

"We'll also get together to walk," she said.

The final weigh-in is March 16, and The Daily will follow this team until then to see what exercises and dieting works or doesn't work for it.

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