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Citizens Challenge All Cities - Lose 1 Million Pounds

Released: Monday, May 17, 2004

BATON ROUGE - Citizens gathered today at one of the nation's premier nutrition research centers to announce their city would lose a million pounds this summer, and challenged all other cities in the state and nation to do the same.

Citing research that shows walking is a safe, easy and enjoyable way to burn extra calories, the challengers said if everyone in Baton Rouge would lose only two pounds this summer, the total loss by fall would be 1 million pounds - that number based on their estimate of 500,000 residents in the greater Baton Rouge area.

The challengers announced a website, www.brmillionpoundchallenge.org, and urged every citizen to log on and learn more about walking, eating fewer calories and to record how much weight they lose during the months of June, July and August.

Led by local businessman Stephen Toups, the soon-to-be daily walkers cited research showing that if a person would add only 2000 steps a day to his or her schedule, or about 20 minutes of walking, that would equal about a mile. They said most Americans would burn 100 calories by doing that - enough to stop weight gain. By cutting 100 more calories from their meals each day, most would start to then lose weight.

"In my own fight with weight and health," Toups said, "I've learned a bit about getting fit…it starts, sometimes literally, by putting one foot in front of the other."

The walking challenge included a call to start the summer with a Million Pound March, scheduled for June 12 downtown. Immediately, John Maginnis, vice president of marketing and creative services for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana issued his own challenge, urging businesses and corporations to step up to the plate.

Challengers said they were already trying to alter their Web site to include a way for businesses and organizations to record their total collective weight.

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The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the causes of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. Itis a campus of the Louisiana State University System and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at the Center includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 50 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dieticians, and support personnel, and 19 highly specialized core service facilities.  The Center's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 234-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.