TOPEKA Gov. Sam Brownback and members of his Cabinet are taking the lead in a weight-loss contest aimed at encouraging Kansans to fight obesity and adopt healthier eating habits.

The Republican governor on Tuesday challenged other executive, legislative and judicial branch employees to field five-member teams that will compete to lose the largest percentage of body weight. The contest will run Jan. 15 through May 15.

Brownback says the rising obesity rates in Kansas and the nation pose serious health risks.

The governor said hes recruiting four members of his Cabinet to join his team. Prizes will be awarded to the top two state employee teams with the biggest weight losses by percentage.

Brownback also encouraged local governments and private businesses to form teams and join the challenge