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The Challenge Kicks off 2nd Year - Tops 2 Million Pounds Lost, Half a Million Gain Healthier Lives

Free Health Initiative offers New Tools, Teams to help People Take off

Pounds, Take Control of Health, Make it Your Challenge

CHICAGO, May 7 /PRNewswire/ -- "Give up the pounds, not the fight," The 50 Million Pound Challenge has just begun! Founded by Dr. Ian Smith and backed by leaders across the African-American community, this remarkable free national health initiative kicks off its second year having already inspired almost half a million people to team up to take off the pounds and take control of their health. The historic campaign capped its 1st anniversary celebration in April by topping 2 million total pounds lost to fight the epidemic of excess weight taking so many U.S. lives, especially among African Americans. This year The Challenge is reaching out to grassroots America with new interactive tools and teams to empower more participants and partner organizations and sustain its drive to reach 50 million pounds.

"We had a great first year. What a difference people can make when they join to confront a serious challenge," said Dr. Ian Smith, Celebrity Fit Club expert and author of NY Times #1 best-seller The Fat Smash Diet. "We're nearly half a million strong and adding members ever day. We're also adding new tools and resources to help more people reach their personal health goals.

I want to remind participants, that The Challenge is theirs. Sharing individual success will drive the campaign's success, by motivating others. It's imperative we inspire more people to join to reach those goals. Too many people are dying from preventable weight-related illnesses. We face an epidemic that affects all Americans, especially the African-American community where lives are cut 5 years shorter than the US average."

In 2008, the campaign is reaching out across grassroots America and partnering with churches, colleges, cities and civic groups to mobilize more people to join the growing Challenge online community at, where participants can find free tips, tools, a personal weight tracker and Challenge teams to support their quest for healthier, longer lives. In its second year, The Challenge will be offering free new interactive tools and team resources, as well as nutrition and diet tips, contests and prizes to make the website an exciting 'go-to' resource for its hundreds of thousands of participants. Thousands have sent in personal success stories to share as Featured Challengers on the website. Tens of thousands have joined one of nearly 9,000 Challenge Teams, and Challenge Leader Kits are now available for those who take on the responsibility of organizing their own team. Also this spring, new online surveys will give everyone a chance to share their views and find out what's on the mind of participants across the Challenge community.

"We're working to empower participants and also partnering with community groups to facilitate natural forums to reach people where they worship, work, recreate and live," said Dr. Ian. "Working together, local organizations and the online Challenge community can form the ultimate support group. Let's make 2008 the year congregations, college students, communities across America focus on the well-being of their hearts and minds, bodies and souls. All resources are FREE thanks to our sponsor State Farm(R)."

"All across America, people are teaming up to take off the pounds and take control of their health. There are now almost 9,000 Challenge teams helping members lose nearly 20% 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."

Backed by hundreds of civic and celebrity champions, mayors, Congress members, national health and civic groups, The Challenge is one of the most far-reaching initiatives of its kind. It has taken on nearly 480,000 participants and taken off more than 2 million pounds. Anyone can join at; an online support community that tallies the total pounds lost and offers free resources, including a personal weight tracker to measure progress. People can also find how to get a free Challenge kit with a CD, brochure, menu and fitness advice, and a pedometer to count steps.

A study in the July 2007 New England Journal of Medicine found that 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 of all Americans. More than 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 illness related 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 U.S. average.

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., is the leading insurer of watercraft and is also a leading insurer in Canada. State Farm's 17,000 agents and 67,000 employees serve over 77 million auto, fire, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and more than 1.9 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 The 50 Million Pound Challenge
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