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PetFit Challenge Helps Keep Pets - and Pet Owners - Healthy

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., July 24 /PRNewswire/ -- A new alliance of animal lovers is attacking one of America's most chronic problems -- obesity -- in pets and pet owners.

America is struggling with a weight problem. About one third of us are obese, including 9 million children. Unfortunately, our pets -- they really do look like us -- mirror us with similar health issues.

The Campaign to End Obesity, a public/private partnership that includes Harvard Medical Center, is helping people trim down, and the Alliance to Prevent Obesity in Pets (APOP) combats obesity through its PetFit Challenge. The PetFit Challenge's goal is to help pets lose more than 50 million pounds this year.

"We share our lives with pets, and sometimes that involves sharing some bad habits, too," explains American Veterinary Medical Association President James Cook, DVM. "One of the great things about the PetFit Challenge is that it recognizes the power of the bond between people and their pets. Due to the strength of the human-animal bond, many Americans worry more about the health of their pets than they do about themselves. The PetFit Challenge asks people to get healthy with their pets."

People interested in shaping up with their pets are invited to visit the APOP Web site at where they can take the PetFit Challenge. Challengers will make a commitment to feed their pets the right amount of the right foods, and to give pets regular exercise, something that will benefit both pet and owner.

The PetFit Web site also provides workout routines designed by celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, involving interspecies interval training, racing and obstacle courses.

The Alliance's program also includes the PetFit Tour, which has been visiting fairs and clinics from Chicago to San Diego, including upcoming state fairs in Missouri and Maryland in August. Visitors to the tour program can see if their pets are obese, get health information, and wear a weighted vest to simulate obesity. The "treat translator" is popular on the tour, giving pet equivalencies for common treats, explains PetFit spokesperson Dr. Heidi Hulon.

"People will give their pet an ounce of cheese as a treat and not think much of it. But for a cat, that's equivalent to a human eating three and a half hamburgers, and for a dog, one and a half hamburgers," she explains.

For more information, visit or

SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association
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