Campaign To Control Health, Fight Toll Of Excess Weight

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Vowing to "give up the pounds, not the fight," Dr. Ian Smith has created The 50 Million Pound Challenge.

Supported by a host of African-American leaders and sponsored by State Farm, The Challenge is coming to Detroit on July 14 for a free special event of fitness & fun to help people take control of their health and take up the fight against weight-related illnesses. On pace as one of the most far-reaching initiatives of its kind, The Challenge is an historic campaign & commitment by the African-American community to rally people across the U.S. to get fit & lose weight -- and ultimately live longer, look & feel great. Three months into its 14-city U.S. tour, 165,275 people have joined the capmaign, losing 333,146 total pounds.

A star-studded cast will be at Hart Plaza Saturday, July 14, 12-4 p.m. (EDT) for a free afternoon of live music, fitness & fun expected to draw thousands. Joining Dr. Ian Smith are Grammy-nominated R&B star Brian McKnight, Grammy-winning gospel singer Yolanda Adams, singing sensation 112, Lions running back Tatum Bell, radio host Steve Harvey, renowned DJ Biz Markie, and chief of staff for Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Christine Beatty, who will read a proclamation welcoming The Challenge to Detroit. Attendees can enjoy live entertainment, get free health screenings, learn more about the initiative and its free fitness tips & tools, sign up online, and join Dr. Ian on a Challenge walk. They can also get free eshots photos, which they can keep as "before" shots to show their progress "after" reaching their personal weight-loss goals -- and motivate them to keep the weight off.

The Challenge aims to reach its ambitious goal by making it easier for millions of people to get fit, lose weight and turn back the deadly toll of weight-related diseases that threatens half of all Americans. Each week 10,000 people die from illnesses related to inactivity and diet. For 135 million Americans and 2/3rds of U.S. adults who are overweight -- double the rate a few decades ago -- people's lifestyle choices have become a matter of life and death. The African-American community has been particularly hard hit, losing too many loved ones to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and related illnesses. Among African Americans, 80% of women and 67% of men face increased risk of deadly illnesses from excess weight.

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"This is an historic opportunity to join hands as a community, take control of our health and save lives," said Dr. Ian, author of NY Times #1 best-seller Extreme Fat Smash Diet. "The groundswell of support is remarkable. More than 165,000 people have joined, losing 330,000 pounds. And we're just getting started. What began as a simple challenge has become a commitment that's spreading across the entire community. Losing weight and getting in shape has never been easier, or more important. Too many are dying from preventable illnesses. The Challenge encourages and empowers people to get fit and give up the pounds that have frustrated so many for so long. It helps us take a giant leap forward towards leading longer, healthier lives."

To mobilize support and fight back The Challenge is hosting events April to November in 14 cities: Washington, DC, Baltimore, Miami, Memphis, Cleveland, Houston, Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Oakland and New Orleans. The campaign has enlisted as champions more than 50 leaders and celebrities across the African-American community, and national civic & health organizations including the American Diabetes Association, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc., 100 Black Men of America Inc., National Urban League, American Council on Exercise, and Institute for the Advancement of Multicultural & Minority Medicine. And The Challenge is working with State Farm to make it easier for people to get fit and reach their healthy weight with helpful tips & tools, including a go-to resource and online community at www.50millionpounds.com.

"We're coming to Detroit to help people take control of their health, make healthier lifestyle choices and give up the pounds, not the fight," said Dr. Ian. "Working together, we will reverse these deadly health trends, one small step at a time. Get fit & give up the excess pounds -- the reward is worth the weight. Not only will it help you live longer, but you'll look and feel great.

Challenge supporter & gospel star Yolanda Adams said, "We're not put on this earth forever. How we live our life does make a difference -- in how much love & joy we can share, and how we're remembered after we're gone. It also makes a difference in how long we're blessed to stay. Too many of us are being taken too early because of lifestyle choices that lead to deadly weight-related illnesses. The Challenge is helping us fight back, by exercising & eating right to be our best. Getting fit & losing weight isn't easy. It's a personal journey that takes commitment & faith. But it can be easier, and you don't have to do it alone. The Challenge is bringing us together and empowering us with the tools and resources to help ourselves & help each other. We can feel the power -- from inside each one of us, from each other, and from God. People from all walks of life, all across America, are being inspired to take control of their lives and health, and take the first steps in this remarkable transformation.

Signing up for The Challenge is easy, free and anyone can join at www.50millionpounds.com, where participants can see the total pounds lost by everyone taking The Challenge, and find tips, tools and a private personal weight tracker to measure their own progress. Free Challenge kits are available from participating State Farm agent offices, with a CD and brochure from Dr. Ian with menu and fitness advice, and a pedometer to measure steps.

Dr. Ian is working on The Challenge with State Farm, which is sponsoring the initiative as part of its long-time commitment to the African-American community and all communities. "This campaign is ultimately about helping people live longer, more productive lives," said Pam El, Vice President of Marketing for State Farm. "We care about the health of our communities. State Farm is proud to work with Dr. Ian on a campaign that can have such a positive impact on so many people's lives." Said Dr. Ian: "State Farm's support and concern in this initiative has been outstanding. They really get it."

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