updated 12/19/2006 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 12/19/2006 AT 5:00 PM ET
American Idol winner Ruben Studdard wants those in his home state of Alabama to follow in his footsteps, now that he is nearly 100 lbs. lighter.
The 28-year-old “Velvet Teddy Bear” – whose third album, The Return, was released in October – is asking the 25 percent of Alabama’s overweight residents to shed 10 pounds in eight weeks. Should the “Scale Back Alabama” 8-week plan work, the state will lose a total of 10 million lbs.
“I’m not where I want to be, but I’m on the right track, and I’m excited about encouraging other Alabamians to begin their own weight-loss journeys, the Idol winner, whose own weight-loss success was based on a regimen of diet and exercise, told the Associated Press.
The crooner also said he saw the importance of getting into shape “because I have a family history of diabetes and high blood pressure and things of that nature.”
The state-wide campaign, sponsored by Alabama’s hospitals, the Alabama Department of Public Health and Barber Dairies, is due to kick off Jan. 4 with an event starring Studdard.
“I felt like it was necessary for me to combat those issues at a young age before it became a bigger issue,” he said. “I went to this place called Duke Diet & Fitness Center for a month and learned how to change my eating habits.”