Corporate Meltdown offers steps toward better health.

Every year in Garden City, local teams face off in a friendly competition that doubles as a battle against the bulge.

It's almost time again for the Garden City Recreation Commission's annual Corporate Meltdown, in which teams of five friends, co-workers or acquaintances motivate each other toward a healthier lifestyle while competing for most pounds lost or most percentage of body fat lost per team.

This year's Corporate Meltdown begins with weigh-in on Jan. 14. Friday is the deadline to register teams. More information is available by contacting the Rec at (620) 276-1200.

Previous results of the program have been encouraging, with participants no doubt finding it easier to lose weight with the support of others.

In 2013, some 160 local participants collectively shed an amazing 725 pounds. Since the program was first offered in 2000, organizers at the Rec have counted more than 10,000 pounds lost by Corporate Meltdown participants.

Of course, anyone interested in melting away pounds and inches has an abundance of good choices locally outside the Rec, such as the Garden City Family YMCA and private fitness clubs. The city's Talley Trail and other public walkways and parks continue to expand and offer more paths for walking, jogging or bike riding.

All efforts to encourage exercise help, as unhealthy weight has joined smoking as a leading health-care concern for all ages. Anyone who ignores their weight gain in particular could be headed toward obesity and other health problems such as diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis, cancer and hypertension.

About two-thirds of all Kansans are considered overweight or obese.

An estimated $1.3 billion is spent annually in Kansas on obesity-related medical expenditures, according to the state, with $385 million paid by Medicaid and Medicare. One study saw obese individuals paying on average 42 percent more in health care costs than normal-weight people.

With obesity cutting short many lives and exacting a costly toll in health care there's much to gain from a little healthy competition.

Good luck to those working so hard to shape up, whether through the Corporate Meltdown or their own personal battle against unhealthy weight gain.