Constant challenges residents to ‘lose a million’

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San Jose Mercury News
Leeta-Rose Ballester

San Jose’s District 1 Councilman Pete Constant has challenged city residents to start a conversation about obesity and to collectively lose 1 million pounds. He chose that figure because he believed it was a reachable target for San Jose’s approximately 1 million people.

Taking an “education over legislation” approach, Constant said attempts to pass bans or special taxes on junk food items like soda got him thinking about ways to get citizens to think about their health.

“I really don’t think government should tell us what to do,” he said. “I thought, ‘What can I do to bring up this issue in a healthier way?'”

Research brought Constant to a news article about Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and his program “This City is going on a Diet.” He said he believed the program was exactly what San Jose needed.

Five months later, on June 16, San Jose’s Lose a Million website and program were born, he said. With the help of the Health Trust and Kaiser Permanente, Constant said he hopes the website will encourage dialogue about weight loss within the community.

“It’s designed to be educational but not pushy,” the councilman said. “It’s challenging people.”

People who register with the website can track individual pounds dropped or inches lost, calories burned and activity. Companies and groups can also track collective stats.

“The more people talk about [obesity], the more likely they are to do something about it,” he said. Constant has himself “struggled with weight” and said he made it a point to lose 30 pounds to “walk the walk” before launching the program.

The website also has nutrition tips, farmers market listings, recipes and park and trail information.

Constant doesn’t see the site as a quick fix to the city’s obesity issues. According to the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, at least 50 percent of adults in San Jose are overweight.

“This is a longer-term health initiative,” said Constant, who plans to challenge the mayors of neighboring cities in an effort to make Lose a Million a county-wide program.

To sign up, residents can visit