A 12-WEEK health challenge, which aimed to get people to improve their lifestyles, has been declared a big success. Twenty-two people signed up for the Lifestyle Challenge in Monkton, Pembroke, losing weight, reducing their blood pressure and cholesterol levels and improving fitness. They took part in an exercise class each week as well as well as receiving advice on how to improve their lifestyle. Part of a two-year project funded by the Welsh Assembly, the challenge ran along much the same lines as many TV reality shows where volunteers commit to improving an area of their health. Community Health development worker Helen Stewart said: "It has been a big success and people have had a lot of fun taking part. More than half of those who took part say that they are eating healthier while a third are doing more exercise. "We looked at a whole variety of issues over the 12 weeks, including food labelling, oral health and the effects of smoking and drinking, ending in a trip to a restaurant so that people could put in to practice what they had learned. "Their motivations for attending the course varied, with losing weight being the most popular, and I am pleased to say that a total of 27kg was lost by just six of the participants." Six major projects in Wales, and 18 smaller initiatives, were awarded funding in 2004 under a Welsh Assembly Government programme to promote healthy lifestyles. The major projects - in Pembrokeshire, Cardiff, Caerphilly, Conwy, Swansea and Torfaen - are each receiving funding of up to £75,000 over three years under the new Food and Fitness Grants Scheme. The other projects will receive small grants of up to £5,000 each. The Food and Fitness Grant Scheme provides funding for community projects that encourage more active lifestyles and/or healthier eating within priority groups. The main target of the scheme is people in socially disadvantaged groups, with particular emphasis on children and young people, and older people.