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Tops State Convention Starts Friday

An estimated 2,000 members of Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) are expected to attend the group’s state convention Friday and Saturday at the Spokane Opera House and Convention Center.

Nearly 48 years after Esther S. Manz began a weight-loss group around her Milwaukee kitchen table, the idea of losing weight through mutual support has flourished.

Manz was a teacher pregnant with her fifth child when she was inspired by the effectiveness of groups in childbirth education and wondered how they’d help weight loss.

She and three friends agreed to meet regularly. By the end of the second week, the four women had lost 28 pounds. By the end of the year, their success had Manz traveling the city with scales and information.

Today, there are more than 300,000 TOPS members and 11,700 chapters worldwide, including 65 in Eastern Washington. The non-profit organization retains low membership fees ($16 a year plus nominal chapter dues) and the principles Manz touted: “A warm hand of friendship, a caring group of friends, a little recognition and some fun add up to successful behavior changes.”

Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. Friday followed by workshops and live entertainment Friday night. Saturday’s events will include awards for members who’ve maintained weight-loss goals in 1995 and the crowning of the king and queen, who’ll attend the international convention in Washington, D.C., in July.

For more information, non-members should call (800) YEA-TOPS or 326-3006 locally.

, DataTimes