Kirkwood, Dianna 1946(?)-

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KIRKWOOD, Dianna 1946(?)-

PERSONAL: Born c. 1946.

ADDRESSES: Office—Mercy Health Center, 250 Mercy Dr., Dubuque, IA 52001. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Mercy Health Center, Dubuque, IA, director of marketing.


(With Jane Clemen, Bobbi Schell, and Daniel Myerson) The Town That Lost a Ton: How One Town Used the Buddy System to Lose 3,998 Pounds—and How You Can Too!, Sourcebooks, Inc. (Naperville, IL), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS: Dianna Kirkwood, dietician Jane Clemen, and supervisor of rehabilitation outreach Bobbi Schell, all of Mercy Medical Center in Dyersville, Iowa, together with writer Daniel Myerson, published a book about their town's successful campaign to lose weight. The Town That Lost a Ton: How One Town Used the Buddy System to Lose 3,998Pounds—and How You Can Too! tells how 383 residents of Dyersville lost the weight in just ten weeks, from March to June 1998. The large number of people were weighed before and after on a truck scale. The Fight the Fat program was prompted by the fact that more than half of health issues are weight related.

The program worked because of the use of the buddy system. People paired up to provide support and motivation and stuck to it, in part, because they didn't want to disappoint their buddies. Participants encouraged each other to practice the weekly tips emphasized during the program, including exercising, cutting back on salt, drinking eight glasses of water a day, and increasing fiber, and to reward themselves at the end of each week. The dieters often walked together before the meetings. They split into groups with names like Bun Busters and Hips Hips Away that competed with each other in the battle of the pounds. "Over the past four years, more than 1,200 Dyersville residents have participated in Fight the Fat, and the program has expanded to the nearby towns of Elkader, Maquoketa, Monticello, and Dubuque," noted Nancy Hellmich in an article at USA Today online. The area program eventually grew to over 3,000 participants. The town of Dyersville, where the movie Field of Dreams was filmed, has a total of 4,000 residents.

The authors lost weight too. Kirkwood dropped nearly thirty pounds, and Clemen lost twelve and was trying for a few more. Schell lost forty pounds but as a couch potato admitted she still had a ways to go. Hellmich noted that Schell finds it a challenge locating a place to exercise in small-town America; her goal is to "have workout facilities in every community in America. And to make it affordable for every American, we need to help fund the leadership of those classes."

Hellmich noted that "because so many folks have packed pounds back on," the program was cancelled in Dyersville in 2002, to allow more time for Schell and colleagues to figure out ways to help residents keep their weight off. After four years, fewer than half of the participants maintained their lower weights, which is why the authors decided to write the book: to offer ongoing support after initial weight loss.

The book is divided into ten chapters that provide tips for motivation, but also sound nutritional advice and tips for maintaining healthy eating habits and a stress-free lifestyle. Weekly workbooks are included. "Sprinkled throughout are low-fat recipes," noted Booklist's Barbara Jacobs. A Publishers Weekly contributor observed that many of the tips are "old hat," but felt that a program that allows people to share their progress and failures with a buddy or a team "will appeal to those who want to lose weight but haven't found the long-term motivation."



Booklist, February 15, 2002, Barbara Jacobs, review of The Town That Lost a Ton: How One Town Used the Buddy System to Lose 3,998 Pounds … and How You Can Too!, p. 979.

Library Journal, January, 2002, Anne C. Tomlin, review of The Town That Lost a Ton, p. 144.

Publishers Weekly, February 18, 2002, review of The Town That Lost a Ton, p. 93.


USA Today, (February 19, 2002), Nancy Hellmich, "In Iowa, Fighting Fat Is Tons o' Fun."*

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Kirkwood, Dianna 1946(?)-

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