UAMS Contest Inspires Healthier Lifestyles for Delta Residents

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Delta Area Health Education Center today announced the winners of a contest that invited residents to exercise, lose weight and receive valuable lessons on health and nutrition.


Called Body Battle, the eight-week contest drew 108 participants to the Delta AHEC wellness center from Jan. 17 to March 6. At the final weigh-in, more than 1,000 pounds had been shed by participants. Four participants also quit smoking.


For $12, adult residents could enter the contest with the chance to win weekly prizes, plus today’s grand prize of $600 for the male and female with the most points. Participants earned points based on weight loss, time spent exercising at the fitness center and the number of health programs attended.


Wally Cox and Linda Whitfield were the top male and female winners. Cox lost 59 pounds and Whitfield lost 30 pounds.


Second place winners, who received $400, were Reginald Wilson, who lost 60 pounds, and Veola Bell, who lost 30 pounds. Third place winners were Ray Olloway, who lost 25 pounds, and Joyce Sanders, who lost 15 pounds. All are from Helena-West Helena.


The AHEC’s fitness center was used by participants six days a week and education programs offered at lunchtime and in the evenings had more than 50 attendees per program.




Residents of the area have critically high rates of mortality and untreated chronic health conditions, often due to obesity and high blood pressure. The seven counties served by the AHEC rank in the state’s 10 worst for deaths from lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and heart disease, as well as for births to adolescents and low birth weight.


Body Battle was created to help inspire the lifestyle changes so desperately needed in the area, said Ashley Harden, director of the wellness center.


“We needed a program that would help motivate people to make major lifestyle changes, and Body Battle proved that we can reach this community and help jump-start those changes,” Harden said. “We also believe that by teaching people the importance of exercise, proper nutrition and other healthy choices, they are better equipped to sustain their weight loss and lifestyle changes.”


The Delta AHEC was established in Helena-West Helena in 2001, and a $4 million, 25,000-square-foot facility was opened in 2006. The UAMS Delta AHEC is open to the public and contains a library, auditorium and classrooms for use by the public and health care professionals. The fitness center also is available to residents year round for $25 a month.


With branch offices in West Memphis and Lake Village, Delta AHEC serves St. Francis, Lee, Phillips, Chicot, Desha, Monroe and Crittenden counties.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,538 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,600 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. Visit