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LaChanze, Tony Award winner from The Color Purple, Joins PepsiCo’s Smart Spot Dance! Initiative In Houston To Engage the African American Community to Get Active


Multicultural Study Reports Dancing As A Fun, Better Way to Increase Physical Activity

PepsiCo Partners with National Urban League, the YMCA and America On the Move To Launch Initiative To Encourage African American Communities To Lead Healthy, More Active Lifestyles

LaChanze, who won the Tony award for her role as Celie in The Color Purple, joins PepsiCo’s Smart Spot Dance! initiative, a multi-city instructional dance program that offers a fun way for families, especially Moms, to lead healthy, more active lifestyles. The event takes place at 7 pm tonight at the Hyatt Regency, 1200 Louisiana Street in Houston. The program is an outreach to the African American communities to promote dance as a way to increase physical activity.

LaChanze will join the community in a dance program led by Broadway choreographer Maria Torres. Local leaders of key community organizations will participate including Sylvia K. Brooks, president and CEO of the Houston Urban League.

“As a mother and Broadway dancer, I certainly understand the importance of nutrition and exercise,” says LaChanze. “Dance is a great way to be active - and I look forward to taking part in this important program.”

A multicultural study released by America On the Move (AOM), a national non-profit organization that provides individuals, families, organizations and communities with free, practical and trusted weight management solutions, reported that people who dance can benefit more than people who walk by almost doubling the amount of physical activity they can achieve in the same amount of time. The study was funded by PepsiCo.

“This study is exciting because it shows us that dancing is just as good as -- if not better than -- walking as a way to stay in shape,” said Jim Hill, AOM founder. “AOM wants lifestyle changes to be simple and fun, and dancing is something many people already do on a regular basis. We encourage people across the country to work dancing into living healthier.”

One of AOM’s key goals is to give individuals a variety of ways to increase their daily steps. As the pioneer of the “small changes” approach, AOM has demonstrated that weight gain can be stopped by balancing calories consumed with calories burned through physical activity -- this is known as “energy balance.” AOM’s research proves that a simple way to achieve energy balance and stop weight gain is by taking an additional 2,000 steps and eating 100 fewer calories a day.

Through dance, people who participated in the study nearly doubled the number of steps taken per minute -- easily achieving and oftentimes exceeding the additional 2,000 steps. A typical walker accumulates about 100 steps per minute. During dancing, people can accumulate up to 200 steps per minute depending on the type of dance. Study participants reported that dance is an entertaining way to increase steps without thinking of the activity as exercise.

“Based on the study’s findings, PepsiCo is launching the Smart Spot Dance! initiative that intends to empower and motivate the Latino and African American communities to adopt healthier, more active lifestyles,” said Ernest McFadden, PepsiCo manager of community affairs. "We’ll engage the community through dance, which is a fun, culturally relevant way for families to get active and we’ll educate our consumers about our Smart Spot products that can contribute to healthier lifestyles.

“We’re proud to work alongside three highly respected community organizations that are as committed to health and wellness as we are,” he said. “Through this partnership, we’re confident that this initiative is another step toward making a difference in these communities.”

PepsiCo is teaming up with the Houston Urban League to enlist its membership to participate in the program.

“Aside from the fact that Smart Spot Dance! can help you to become more productive in so many areas, we must remember that we are not getting any younger! One of our main goals in life should be to live a long, prosperous and healthy life,” said Brooks. “With dedication to programs like this one, that goal becomes so much easier to accomplish. I urge everyone to participate in this movement, and remember -- a SMART start can begin with DANCING on the SPOT.”

At tonight’s event, LaChanze will join Broadway choreographer Maria Torres in a high-energy, easy-to-follow dance routine that teaches the community the latest moves through a fusion of Latin jazz and urban rhythms. Registered dietician Jeannette Jordan will be on-hand to provide counsel on how to live healthier, more active lifestyles and recipes will be distributed. Each participant will receive a DVD of the dance routine, a pedometer to measure daily steps and other collateral materials.

Each event will be videotaped and participants can visit, click on the Smart Spot Dance! logo to see themselves, family and friends dancing. This is a bilingual site that highlights each event, features an event-by-event diary from LaChanze, the dance instruction routine by Maria Torres, a dance track to learn the steps, and Latin and R&B music to download so people can create their own dance video and upload the videos to the site. People can vote for their favorite dance and each month the Top 10 dance videos will be featured. Later this year, PepsiCo will release a “dance-YOU-mentary,” the first-ever documentary featuring consumer-generated dance videos from these communities, with the debut slated to run on and

The Smart Spot Dance! initiative also includes a partnership with the National Council of La Raza to reach out to Latino communities to encourage physical activity through dance and educate the communities about healthier eating. Mario Lopez from Dancing with the Stars and Claudia Gonzalez, a registered dietician, will visit several cities targeting the Latino communities.

The Smart Spot Dance! initiative will travel next to Los Angeles (May 31 with Mario Lopez/Claudia Gonzalez), Miami (July 20-21 at the NCLR national conference with Mario Lopez/Claudia Gonzalez), St. Louis (July 27-28 at the NUL national conference with LaChanze/Jeannette Jordan) and Washington, DC (September 26 with LaChanze/Jeannette Jordan, and October 1 with Mario Lopez/Claudia Gonzalez).

PepsiCo is committed to playing a responsible and constructive role in health and wellness. The company recognizes its responsibility to encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles -- beginning with its products. In 2004, PepsiCo launched the Smart Spot symbol -- the green symbol of Smart Choices Made Easy. This symbol is a simple labeling system that makes it easier for consumers to identify PepsiCo products that contribute to a healthier lifestyle and explains why each product is a better choice.

Products that feature the Smart Spot symbol meet established nutrition criteria based on authoritative statements from the Food and Drug Administration and the National Academy of Sciences or provide other functional benefits. The Smart Spot symbol appears on more than 250 PepsiCo products including Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice, Aquafina water, Gatorade Thirst Quencher, Baked! Lay’s, Quaker Oatmeal and Diet Pepsi, among many others.

PepsiCo’s journey to offer healthier choices started literally decades ago when the company was the first to offer a diet soft drink. That innovation in beverages was followed by moving beyond soft drinks into non-carbonated drinks -- where today, the company is the leader in bottled water, juices, and ready-to-drink tea.

In the late ’90s, PepsiCo moved to transform the company further with the acquisition of Tropicana, which includes a wide range of added benefits like Calcium and Fiber.

In 2001, PepsiCo merged with Quaker Oats, which brought a portfolio of healthy cereals and grains, along with Gatorade.

Since that time, PepsiCo has been transforming its “core” portfolio of beverages and snacks to play a role in improved diets -- using new technologies, accelerating innovation and exploring new territories to find ways to give consumers a greater variety of healthier choices.

That includes taking steps to improve the healthfulness of the company’s existing products. For example:

* Frito-Lay was the first food company to completely and voluntarily eliminate trans fats from its products;
* Following that move, Frito-Lay recently reduced saturated fats in Lay’s and Ruffles potato chips by more than 50% by switching to sunflower oil -- a heart healthy oil;
* Quaker Breakfast Bars are 25 percent lower in sugar than the leading cereal bars;
* Tropicana Light ’n Healthy has one-half the sugar and the calories of regular orange juice; and,
* Propel Fitness Water has added calcium.

The company is committed to going much further. In fact, 50 percent of PepsiCo’s new food and beverage products are expected to be comprised of wholesome and nutritious ingredients or offer improved health benefits.

PepsiCo continues to experience impressive growth results across all its North American businesses with its Smart Spot products. In 2006, more than 40% of the company’s North American revenues came from products that are Smart Spot eligible, reflecting consumers’ demand for healthier products. PepsiCo emphasizes the importance of energy balance -- balancing calories consumed and calories burned.

As a result, the company is committed to providing products that contribute to a healthier lifestyle as well as supporting programs that promote more active lifestyles.


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