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Challenge Tops 848,000 lbs, Urges Oaklanders to Team Up to Fight Epidemic of Excess Weight

Celebrity Fit Club expert/bestselling author Dr. Ian Smith brings his free

national weight-loss initiative to Oakland; Stars come out for free

afternoon of live music, fitness & fun - Join Team Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Ian Smith's 50 Million Pound Challenge is rallying Oaklanders to take control of their health and give up the pounds to fight the epidemic of excess weight taking so many lives across the community. Backed by African-American leaders and sponsored by State Farm(R), The Challenge is in Oakland on the 13th stop of its national kickoff tour, helping people get fit, lose weight and save lives with free tips, tools and now Challenge Teams. One of the most far-reaching initiatives of its kind, The Challenge is an historic campaign by the African-American community that has taken on 234,194 participants in its first six months and taken off 848,672 pounds.

To encourage Oaklanders to make healthier lifestyle choices, a star- studded cast joins Dr. Ian on Saturday, Oct. 20 for a free afternoon of music, fitness and fun at Oakland's Lake Merritt. Appearing are Grammy-nominated gospel singer Kelly Price, R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn, rapper Slick Rick and DJ Biz Markie. Golden State Warriors point guard Baron Davis will also be on hand to sign autographs. Along with the live entertainment, attendees can get free health screenings, learn more about The Challenge, sign up for the initiative, start or join one of 2,240 new Challenge Teams, and accompany Dr. Ian on a Challenge walk. They can also take free eshots photos to keep as "before" shots to show their progress "after" reaching their weight-loss goals.

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums is also encouraging city residents to take control of their health. "The health and vitality of our residents is essential to the future of our City's overall prosperity," said Mayor Dellums. "By collectively addressing the health disparities stemming from excess weight, we will advance a vital area of our Model City agenda." Residents are encouraged to visit to join Team Oakland and start tracking their progress together.

"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

A new 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, and life expectancy is five years below the US average. To fight back, The Challenge has enlisted leaders across the community, national civic and health organizations like the American Diabetes Association, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, 100 Black Men of America, National Urban League and American Council on Exercise, and is hosting a 14-city kick-off tour to call attention to the issue.

Challenge champion and gospel/soul star Kelly Price said: "Life is a gift God gave us. We need to guard it well, because it can go away too quickly. The Challenge is a welcome alarm telling us it's time to take control of our health. Losing weight and getting fit is never easy. It takes determination and faith to climb the mountain. The Challenge gives us a guide to get to our destination. The view from the top makes it all worthwhile."

Signing up for The Challenge is easy. Anyone can join at, an online community and go-to resource that tallies the total pounds lost by everyone taking The Challenge. Free tips and tools make it easier to get fit and reach your healthy weight-there's even a private personal weight tracker to help measure your progress. Free Challenge kits have a CD and brochure from Dr. Ian, menu and fitness advice and a pedometer to count steps.

Join The Challenge 'March to a Million,' Win a Trip to New Orleans

The Challenge is serious about helping people get healthy and reaching the one million pound milestone by the end of the kick-off tour Nov. 24. As an incentive, it's giving participants who update their online weight trackers or get others to join a chance to win a free trip to the State Farm Bayou Classic in New Orleans-the tour's final stop. For more details, go to

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 than any other insurer in North America and is the leading U.S. home insurer. State Farm's 17,000 agents and 68,000 employees serve more than 75 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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