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50 Million Pound Challenge Marks 1st Anniversary – What a Difference a Year Makes!


Half a Million People Team up to Take Control of Health, Take off Pounds to Gain Healthier Lives

New York City -- What a difference a year makes! What a difference people can make when they join together to confront a serious challenge. On April 7, 2007, thousands braved snow in Washington, D.C. to join Dr. Ian Smith, Patti LaBelle, Yolanda Adams, Michael Strahan, Steve Harvey and other leaders to launch Dr. Ian’s 50 Million Pound Challenge. Backed by leaders across the African-American community, this unprecedented national health initiative hosted a 14-city kickoff tour and has resonated across America with its rallying cry ’Give up the pounds, not the fight.’ On April 7, 2008, Dr. Ian will be at NYC’s Apollo Theater to begin a month-long anniversary celebration. This historic campaign has already inspired almost half a million people to team up to take control of their health, take off close to two million pounds and fight the epidemic of excess weight taking so many lives, especially among African Americans.

The Challenge is celebrating its first-year milestone by taking its message to grassroots America, and marking April as “50 Million Pound Challenge Month.” The initiative is partnering with churches, colleges and civic organizations across the nation to mobilize more members and sustain its drive to reach its ambitious 50 million pound goal. To help spread the word, Dr. Ian – campaign founder, Celebrity Fit Club expert and #1 NY Times best-selling author of the Fat Smash Diet – has been joined by hundreds of civic and celebrity champions, mayors, members of Congress and national health and civic groups. All are encouraging more people to join the growing Challenge online community at where participants can find free tips, tools, a personal weight tracker and start or join Challenge teams to support their quest to lead healthier, longer lives.

“We’ve had a great first year, and The Challenge has just begun. It’s imperative we inspire more people to join and reach their personal health goals, and collectively help us achieve our 50 million pound goal,” Dr. Ian said. “Too many people are dying from preventable weight-related illnesses. We’re facing an epidemic that affects all Americans, especially the African-American community, where lives are being cut five years shorter than the US average.”

“Local organizations, such as churches, colleges and civic groups, are cornerstones of African-American communities and natural forums for reaching people where they worship, work and live. Joining together, local organizations and the online Challenge community can be the ultimate support groups. We want 2008 to be the year congregations, college students, and communities across America focus on the well-being of their hearts and minds, bodies and souls,” Dr. Ian said. “Groups and individuals can get FREE tips, tools and team resources thanks to our sponsor State Farm®”

“The good news is people are taking heed and taking heart. They’re teaming up to take off the pounds and take control of their health. More than 7,000 Challenge teams have been formed, and are helping members lose 15% more weight than the overall average. That’s a winning formula,” said Dr. Ian. “We gained the weight together; we can lose it together. We can reverse these trends and turn the epidemic of excess weight into a culture of healthy living.”

One of the most far-reaching initiatives of its kind, The Challenge has so far has taken on more than 430,000 participants and taken off more than 1.8 million pounds. Anyone can join at, a go-to online resource and support community that tallies the total pounds lost. Among the resources available through the site is a personal weight tracker to help measure progress. People can also find out how to get a free Challenge kit which contains a CD and brochure with menu and fitness advice and a pedometer to count steps.

A study in the July 2007 New England Journal of Medicine found close friends and family set a powerful example for each other—they tend to gain but can also lose weight together. The Challenge aims to reach its goal by making it easier for millions to fight the epidemic of excess weight threatening half all Americans. Today, 135 million Americans and two in three adults are overweight, double the rate a few decades ago. Each week, 10,000 die from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other illnesses tied to inactivity and diet. African Americans are especially hard hit: 80% of women and 67% of men face higher risk from weight-related diseases, with life expectancy five years below the US norm.


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