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Dr. Ian Smith: Taking Obesity Head On

by  V. Sheree Williams on October 31, 2011

healthy_living_dr_ian_smithSince launching his weight loss initiative, The 50 Million Pound Challenge, in 2007, Dr. Ian Smith, or "Dr. Ian" as he is called, is still on a mission to help Americans lose weight and be healthy in every aspect of their lives.  Since the campaign launch four years ago, members nationwide have lost close to 15 million pounds and continue to encourage others to get on board and the join community.

Creating a healthier America is definitely at the forefront of what Smith is setting out to do.  If you didn't see him on VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club," Smith was most likely traveling the country speaking at various engagements on the topic of obesity and weight loss or writing and promoting one of his books with the latest being "Eat," which came out this year.  Smith describes this book as being for those who don't want to be on a weight loss program. "It gives people a lot of flexibility and information about how to make small changes to lose the weight they are trying to lose.  But it is also a book for people who just want to eat well, people who are not looking to lose weight but to maintain weight. This book teaches you how to eat better, how to make better choices and the whole family can do it."

It is no secret that this country and the world are struggling with high obesity and chronic disease rates.  Zoom in closer to the African-American community and the numbers are quite frankly unacceptable.  Smith shares, "80% of African-American women are overweight.  That is a number that we cannot say enough, we have to tell people 8-0 sisters are overweight and it is a real problem.  We are at epidemic proportions of being overweight and the diseases that being overweight and obese bring."

So why is this?  Smith provides some of the top reasons or as I want to say "excuses" for this unhealthy rise:

  1. Lack of time to work out - Let's be real, we all make time to do what we want to do.  If working out is important to us, we will make the time to do so.
  2. Eating healthy is expensive – A bag of apples can be less expensive than comfort foods such as chips, soda, cookies and sweets.  Shop around.  Deals are out there and again it comes down to what is important to you.
  3. Hair – "Working out will mess up my hair," is something that African-American women have been saying for years.  Work with your stylist to find a hairstyle that will last.  If you are open, start doing your own hair at home.   There is definitely a good in between solution.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and Smith has partnered with CVS/ pharmacy to raise awareness about diabetes, a chronic disease affecting nearly 24 million Americans.  Because weight management is an important element in the fight against this disease, the partnership seems like a natural fit.

Together with The 50 Million Pound Challenge online community, members receive meal plans, information, resources and encouragement from Smith and others.  Everyone is in this fight together which has truly made a difference for many.

Throughout his talks and books, Smith is clear about steps that we can take individually to live healthier lives and shed those unwanted pounds:

  1. Know what your recommended weight should, as well as your body mass index.
  2. Set realistic goals for reaching your recommended weight.
  3. Find a weight loss plan that will challenge you in the short term but also be on that you can stick with in the long run.

When it comes to the issue of obesity in this country, Smith notes that to put a dent in this epidemic, it will take a multi-faceted approach on many levels. He says that government, corporate, community and individual intervention can address this issue in an effective way.  "Everyone has a role in this," he says.

"I just want to encourage people to really understand and believe that they actually do have more control over their health destiny that than they think they have. By making really small changes which I advocate in my book, and making them a part of who you are and what you are, then it is no longer a program but a way of living."

For more information about Dr. Ian Smith and The 50 Million Pound Challenge, visit

For information about diabetes, visit


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