June 17, 2024

BONTOC, Mountain Province – This local government has introduced an interesting twist in its yearly conduct of the weight loss challenge aimed to transform not only participants’ bodies but their lifestyle habits too.

The Municipal Health Office led by Municipal Health Officer Diga Kay Gomez has introduced the 2024 weight loss challenge program dubbed “Chagsen Challenge with smoking cessation and combating soft drinks addiction”, noting that per report from the World Health Organization, tobacco has killed over eight million people around the world. More than seven million of these deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.3 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

In the municipality, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are among the top 10 leading causes of morbidity and mortality. Of this record, smoking was seen among the top predisposing factors. Also, soda and other sweetened drinks are made with potentially habit-forming ingredients like caffeine and sugar, making it enjoyable leading to cra-vings which can lead to unwanted weight gain and NCDs.

The 2024 weight loss challenge aims to encourage and support participants to quit smoking and stop soda consumption, which can lead to improved health.

It is open to all smokers and habitual drinkers of soda, along with those 18 years old and above who are overweight and obese and who want to lose weight through healthy diet and exercise.

Interested individuals may register from March 1 to 29 at the first floor of the Bontoc Municipal Capitol.

Municipal Nutrition Action Officer Venous Faith Cofulan said there will be one winner in each category. The three categories are the Overall Biggest Loser – regardless of whether he or she quits smoking and drinking soft drinks; the Biggest Loser Who Stopped Drinking Soda – the next biggest loser who also quit drinking soda; and the Non-Smoker – the third biggest loser regardless of whether he or she quits smoking and drinking soft drinks.

Participants who are smokers should regularly visit the Municipal Health Office for counselling; a witness or witnesses are required to vouch for the participants who claim to have stopped smoking and drinking soft drinks; potential winners will be interviewed by judges or validators before the announcement of winners; and a special prize will be given to the LGU office with the least consumption of soda from April to September 2024.

The activity aims to improve the health status and quality of life of the participants; determine whether competitions lead to higher long-term smoking quit rates; reduce the financial burden brought by smoking to the individual, the health system, and the society; and prevent NCDs and premature death through healthy weight loss, smoking cessation, and healthy diet.

The weight loss program has been institutionalized in 2022. It started as a privately funded program dubbed “Chagsen Challenge” (Search for the Biggest Loser) in 2019. Recognizing the importance of the program in the promotion of health and wellness, it was included in the nutrition action plan of the LGU. – Alpine K. Malwagay