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50 Million Pound Challenge Teams Up With Churches to Spread the 'Gospel of Healthy Living'

Free National Weight-loss Initiative to Focus on Grassroots in '08 -

Churches Key

CHICAGO, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- In 2008, Dr. Ian Smith's 50 Million Pound Challenge will be working with local organizations, particularly churches, to help spread the word and organize at the grassroots level to motivate people take control of their health. Just as the national health initiative conducted a 14-city kick-off tour in 2007, this year's focus will be on visiting several of the largest and most influential churches and partnering with hundreds of other churches nationwide to provide resources and guidance for them to implement The Challenge on their own. Since its launch last April, more than 300,000 have joined The Challenge and are taking control of their health. Together, they have lost more than 1.3 million pounds in the fight against the epidemic of excess weight, which is taking so many lives, particularly in the African-American community.


"We are off to a great start, but it's imperative that we inspire more people to become active participants to reach our 50 million pound goal," Dr. Ian said. "We will continue to take The Challenge message and weight loss tools to the people. The churches, traditional cornerstones in African-American communities, are a natural pulpit for delivering our important message. I thank our sponsor State Farm(R) for making it possible for us to spread this "gospel of healthy living" as we head out across the country this year."

Dr. Ian launched The Challenge's Church Tour with a visit to Divinity Christian Church in Los Angeles last fall and has already taken the initiative to one of the largest and most influential of black churches in New York, Abyssinian Baptist Church, and in New Orleans, Greater St. Stephens Full Gospel Baptist Church. He's encouraged members to go to to register and access free resources and to form and participate in teams for support. Dr. Ian and The Challenge will be visiting more churches across the country during the coming year starting with the New Destiny Church in Orlando, FL on February 10 and New Birth Missionary Baptist in Atlanta, GA on February 24. Additionally, The Challenge will provide important free resources, including Challenge kits (containing a CD and brochure with menu and fitness advice and a pedometer to count steps) to churches interested in orchestrating local participation in the effort.

"In tandem, the online Challenge community and the church can be the ultimate support group. We want to support churches in helping their congregations make 2008 the year they started focusing on the well-being of their bodies, along with their souls," Dr. Ian said. "Churches and individual participants can access free resources and set up teams 24/7 at They can gain support and motivation by working together with others in the congregation on a similar journey. Losing weight isn't always easy, but working together and support are important keys to success."

The Challenge is a national health initiative backed by numerous African-American leaders, national civic and health organizations and sponsored by State Farm. Anyone can join at, an online community and go-to resource that tallies the total pounds lost by everyone taking The Challenge. Free tips, tools and Challenge teams make it easier to get fit and reach your healthy weight-there's even a private personal weight tracker to help measure your progress. One of the most far-reaching initiatives of its kind, The Challenge is an historic campaign by the African-American community that has so far taken on 310,520 participants and taken off 1,310,960 pounds.

"Too many people are dying too young, too early from preventable weight-related illnesses," said Dr. Ian. "We face an epidemic that affects all Americans, especially the African-American community, where lives are being cut five years shorter than the US average. The good news is people are listening to our vow to 'give up the pounds, not the fight.' They're signing on and teaming up to take control of their health. 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. Take the Challenge. It's free. It's fun. The reward is worth the weight-it can save your life, and you'll look and feel great!"

Study Shows Friends & Family Gain Weight Together, But Can Also Lose it Together -- Churches Perfect Place to Find Support

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds close friends and family set a powerful example for each other-they gain weight together but can also lose it together. The Challenge aims to reach its 50 million pound 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. The African-American community is especially hard hit: 80% of women and 67% of men face higher risk from these weight-related diseases.

About The 50 Million Pound Challenge

Dr. Ian Smith's 50 Million Pound Challenge is an historic opportunity and commitment by the African-American community to come together and help people take control of their health by getting fit, losing excess weight and turning back the deadly toll of weight-related diseases that threaten nearly half of Americans and hits the African-American community especially hard. The Challenge, a campaign supported and endorsed in name and deed by leaders across the community and national civic and health organizations, is sponsored by State Farm.

About Dr. Ian Smith

Dr. Ian is a diet expert on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club and author of the NY Times #1 best-sellers Fat Smash Diet and Extreme Fat Smash Diet, and other works of fiction and non-fiction. He hosts his own TV and radio shows, BET's Meet the Faith and HealthWatch on American Urban Radio Network. Dr. Ian is a contributor to The View and Men's Health Magazine. He has filed reports and written for NBC Nightly News, Today Show, Essence, Ebony, People, Cosmopolitan and University of Chicago's Medicine on the Midway. He is a new dad and lives with his family in Chicago.

About State Farm

State Farm(R) insures more cars and homes than any other insurer in the U.S., the leading insurer of watercraft and is also a leading insurer in Canada. State Farm's 17,000 agents and 68,000 employees serve over 76 million auto, fire, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and more than 1.7 million bank accounts. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 31 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit or in Canada

SOURCE 50 Million Pound Challenge
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