Fifty Million Pound Challenge To Take Control Of Health, Fight Deadly Toll Of Excess Weight

Armen Hareyan's picture

The 50 Million Pound Challenge stops in Miami May 19 on its 14-city tour across the US rallying people to "give up the pounds, not the fight."

On April 7, Dr. Ian Smith, physician, NY Times best-selling author & VH1 Celebrity Fit Club expert, teamed up with State Farm(R) and a host of African-American leaders to launch The Challenge, an unprecedented campaign and commitment by the African-American community to help people lose weight, get fit & take control of their health. In its first month, 55,984 people joined the campaign.

The Challenge hosts a free special event expected to draw thousands to Miami's Bay Front Park-Tina Hills Pavilion on Saturday, May 19, 11-2 p.m. Joining Dr. Ian Smith will be Grammy-winning hip hop star Wyclef Jean, national radio host Steve Harvey, rap star & beat boxer Doug E. Fresh, R&B vocalist Kenny Lattimore, DJ Biz Markie, and South Florida-based talents gospel singer/songwriter Maryel Epps and saxophonist Al Johnson. Attendees will be able to enjoy live entertainment, get free health screenings, learn more and sign up for The Challenge, and join Dr. Ian for a Challenge walk at Bay Front Park.

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. The African-American community has been particularly hard hit, losing too many loved ones to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other related illnesses. To fight back and encourage more people to join, The Challenge is hosting events in 14 U.S. cities from April to November.

The campaign has enlisted as champions more than 50 leaders and celebrities across the African-American community, and national civic and health organizations such as 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 it's 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


"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 Fat Smash Diet. "The groundswell of support has been amazing. More than 50,000 have joined already, and we've only just begun. What started as a simple challenge has become a remarkable commitment that's spreading across the entire community. Losing weight and getting in shape has never been easier, or more important. Too many people are dying from preventable illnesses. The Challenge 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."

The numbers and lost lives tell the story. Every week, 10,000 Americans die from preventable illness related to poor diet and inactivity. Yet 135 million Americans and two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight today, double the rate a few decades ago. For African Americans, 80% of women and 67% of men face the deadly risks of excess weight. "We will reverse these deadly trends together, one small step at a time," said Dr. Ian. "The answer is clear. Reach your healthy weight, and you'll look and feel great. You're also likely to live longer!"

Challenge participant & radio host Steve Harvey said, "The Challenge is a real wake-up call for the community and a life-saver for individuals. We're losing too many people to deadly weight-related diseases, which are all preventable, but only if we get ourselves in better shape. The Challenge has everything you need to get your shape up and weight down. For participants, it's like having your own personal trainer-for free. You get a personal weight tracker to measure progress, a pedometer to measure your steps, and tips & tools to plan a healthy menu you can enjoy eating. You even get prizes and Dr. Ian and me on the radio to make it fun. It should add years to your life -- that gets big points in my book. To top it off, when you exercise and eat right, you feel great. It brings back your sexy self! Dr. Ian calls it endorphins. I call it being fine. We need fewer people dying and more people enjoying longer, healthier lives. We've got the power. Take The Challenge -- we're about to be fine."

Challenge supporter & Grammy-winning hip-hop star Wyclef Jean said, "No matter who you are or where you come from, we all need to take time to take care of our health. Life is too short and there's too much music and good times to enjoy. The Challenge is giving us a great opportunity to look out for our health and look out for each other. It's helping us make the choices we know we need to make. We all have the power to lead healthier, longer lives. Let's not waste a moment. We owe it to our loved ones. We owe it to ourselves. If we pull together, we can make a tremendous difference."

On its 14-city tour, The Challenge travels to Washington, DC, Baltimore, Miami, Memphis, Cleveland, Houston, Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Oakland & New Orleans. 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 at participating State Farm agent offices, with a CD and brochure from Dr. Ian for health & food advice, and pedometer to measure steps.

Dr. Ian is teaming 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 an issue that has 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."



I would like to find persons in my area that have a group, in the milwaukee wisc area Please contact me thru my email [email protected] Thanks
Is this for everyone or are you just targeting the African American comunity. I saw a quick commerical and then went online to find more inforamtion; that is when I saw that it is geared more towards the African American community,which I have no problem with, I was just looking for some free help also. I am going to keep trying to find out more. I need to lose alot of weight. Thank you!
it was a white dude at a drive thru getting something to eat... dunno wtf your talking about. Frankly i find the whole thing stupid.
I would like to find free groups and help I really need to loose weight around 100lbs and we have a very limited income that does not allow me to spend money on extras I live in Montesano, WA about 40 miles from Olympia WA
I would love to loose about 50 lbs. I a 59 years old, 5'2" and weigh 185 lbs. I started gaining weight after taking a position that requires a lot of sitting. On top of that I recently adopted a 10 year old child. I get her off to school at 8am..I work from 8:30am to 5pm..pick up child, home work, dinner then baths and time for exercise..what do I do? I need a support group in the western suburbs of chicago..HELP!
Hi, I need to be encouraged. Looking for group in my area.
I see all the famous people who are in support of the program but I see no information about the program. Where do I need to look?
I would like to join the fifty million pound challenge, I need to loose 100 lbs and need help doing it . please help me reach my goal.