Residents of the West Side of Stanislaus County took the first steps towards a healthier lifestyle with their own version of a “Biggest Loser” competition. On Aug. 12 seven teams of 10 people stepped on a giant agricultural scale to weigh in and begin their weight loss mission. Five of those teams took to the scales again on Saturday for their final weigh out at the end of the competition. The weight loss challenge was a friendly competition between the cities of Newman, Gustine and Patterson. It was organized by the Westside Healthcare Advisory Task Force as part of the Healthy Communities Summit in August. The average weight of this year’s 70 contestants was just over 208 pounds. At the beginning of the competition County Supervisor Jim DeMartini said that the task force was created to improve health care on the Westside of Stanislaus County and north Merced County. He said that there are no hospitals in Newman or the surrounding areas of Patterson or Gustine, and there is a lack of other health care services in the area. “A practical first step towards healthcare is a healthy lifestyle,” DeMartini said. Weight loss is a big part of a healthy lifestyle, and Dr. Kwabena Adubofour, the medical director of Fifth Street Medical Center in Stockton.“I don’t think we’re all treating obesity with the seriousness that you all are treating it,” Adubofour told the competitors. He outlined some early warning signs of obesity and pre-diabetic conditions, including darkening of the skin on the back of the neck and in the armpits. To make a point about obesity he showed summit attendees a popular Internet photo of a very overweight cat watching television. “I can assure you that if your cat looks like this, you weigh a ton,” Adubofour joked. After seven weeks every team showed signs of weight loss progress. Unfortunately, two of the original seven teams were disqualified because not all 10 members came to the final weigh in. The winning team, Newman Crows Landing Unified School District, lost a combined weight of 125 pounds. They were presented with a certificate and the team name was added to a plaque. The district was new to the Westside Biggest Loser this year, as was the runner up team of Patterson Unified School District. To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.