'Idol' winner sheds 100 lbs., wants others to diet


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The scales of "American Idol" may have tipped in Ruben Studdard's favor in 2003, but there are other scales he would like to tip a bit less.

After shedding almost 100 pounds, the Birmingham native and "American Idol" winner says he wants to help other residents of Alabama to lose weight.

He's asking the 25% of the state's residents who are obese to lose 10 pounds in eight weeks -- a total of 10 million pounds.

Since committing to a weight-loss program this summer, Studdard has lost nearly 100 pounds, started eating healthier and begun exercising, according to a news release announcing the program.

"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," said the 28-year-old singer, whose third album, "The Return," was released in October by J Records.

Studdard told The Associated Press in a recent interview that he wanted to get in shape "because I have a family history of diabetes and high blood pressure and things of that nature."

"I felt like it was necessary for me to combat those issues at a young age before it became a bigger issue. I went to this place called Duke Diet & Fitness Center for a month and learned how to change my eating habits."

Scale Back Alabama, an eight-week weight-loss campaign, kicks off Jan. 4 with an event featuring Studdard. The campaign is being jointly sponsored by Alabama's hospitals, the Alabama Department of Public Health and Barber Diaries.