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City of Pittsburgh Launches First-in-the-Nation Plant-Based Initiative to Improve Cardiovascular Health of Firefighters, Police, Emergency Medical Services, City Employees with Month-long Heart of a Hero Health Challenge

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The City of Pittsburgh, American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), insurance leader Highmark, and plant-based nutrition company Engine 2 are partnering to launch a month-long cardiovascular health challenge for City of Pittsburgh employees called Heart of a Hero Campaign, the first initiative of its kind in the country.

"This Heart of a Hero challenge is directly in line with the city's goal to improve environmental health through improved use of our resources and a reduced carbon footprint as outlined in OnePGH," said City of Pittsburgh Mayor, William Peduto. "We applaud our city's employees for taking steps to improve their health while reducing their consumption of animal products." 

Working in collaboration with the City of Pittsburgh's CityFit Wellness & Benefits Team and Humane Action Pittsburgh, this event kicks off September 4 with an informational talk and cooking demonstration by Rip Esselstyn, a former Austin, Texas firefighter turned health ambassador and best-selling author. City employees and their families will then be invited to take the Seven-Day Rescue Challenge and eat a heart-healthy plant-based diet for one solid week, with a full menu of resources, recipes and online coaching.

"Heart attacks are the number one cause of in-the-line-of-duty deaths for firefighters and it ranks fifth for police officers," said Esselstyn. "If our men and women on the front lines are at the highest risk for coronary disease, we want to equip them with the tools - and the delicious foods - needed to reduce their risk and help them be not only fit for duty, but fit for LIFE."

Participants will receive before-and-after biometric screenings to measure weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and fasting blood sugar. The challenge aims to demonstrate measurable improvement in as little as one week, with typical results including weight loss and cholesterol level and blood pressure improvements.

"We have abundant evidence that consuming a whole-food, plant-based diet is the best way to reduce and, in some cases, reverse symptoms of chronic disease, including obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar and elevated cholesterol," said ACLM President Dexter Shurney, MD, MBA, MPH, FACLM, DipABLM. "This challenge is an excellent on-ramp for individuals to learn what's possible by changing their lifestyle and how their fork drives day-to-day wellbeing." 

As part of the challenge, participants can attend the world premiere screening of "The Game Changers". Executive-produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan, the film documents the explosive rise of plant-based eating in professional sports, mixing real-time, groundbreaking science with cinematic stories of struggle and triumph. The film features some of the strongest, fastest and toughest athletes on the planet, with additional EPs including Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic, and nine-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul.

"Our hope is that 'The Game Changers' will help the people of Pittsburgh put some dangerous myths about meat and protein to rest," said the film's producer James Wilks, "while helping them understand that a plant-based diet is the healthiest and strongest way to eat."

After the seven-day challenge, participants will be coached by the Engine 2 team for 10 weeks to help each person adapt the lifestyle to his or her needs, monitor results and track improvement.  Three-month screenings also will be conducted to study the long-term effects of the campaign.

For more information about the Challenge visit City of Pittsburgh employees can register to participate by calling 412-255-2183. For more information about and tickets to "The Game Changers," visit

For more information about ACLM, visit

For more about Engine 2, visit 

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SOURCE Engine 2