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Contact: Cindy Karra -- 202-974-5009

Dr. Koop Launches a New Weight Loss Program for the New Century

Shape Up & Drop 10 Revolutionizes Weight Management for Overweight Americans

For Immediate Release 

Washington, DC; January 6, 2000 - Calling unhealthy weight one of the most serious public health threats of the new century, Dr. C. Everett Koop, the former U.S. Surgeon General, today launched a major initiative to finally enable the one in two adult Americans now classified as overweight or obese to lose weight in a healthy manner and to keep off the pounds for good.

Utilizing the latest scientific principles of what is needed for healthy and permanent weight loss, the program was developed by Shape Up America!, the nation's leading non-profit anti-obesity campaign, to overcome the many modern-day barriers that are keeping Americans from successful weight management. Called Shape Up & Drop 10, the program is unlike commercial weight loss programs in its design and mode of delivery. Rather than relying on such approaches as regular meetings, weigh-ins and use of packaged foods, Shape Up & Drop 10 provides adults who are overweight or obese with the most personalized, interactive and easy-to-follow way to lose weight: through a weight management program accessible 24-hours a day on Shape Up America!'s website (www.shapeup.org).

"As we begin the new millennium, we have the chance to revolutionize the way in which people take charge of their weight," said Dr. Koop. "At a time when obesity is escalating to epidemic levels, it is important to reach Americans with solution-oriented information on weight control. That is the goal of Shape Up & Drop 10, which harnesses the growing power of the Internet and interactive technology to provide a weight management program that is customized for each participant."

In announcing Shape Up & Drop 10, Dr. Koop provided a status report on obesity at the beginning of the new century, describing unhealthy weight as one of the most pervasive public health crises affecting this country. It is now estimated that one in two adults - approximately 90 million Americans - is overweight or obese, an increase of more than 25 percent over the past three decades. These statistics are based on tracking the body mass index (BMI) of adults aged 18 and over, a measurement that takes into account both height and weight and is calculated as weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of height (in meters). Using U.S. government criteria, a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight while a BMI of 30 and above is classified as obese.

But what is especially disturbing, according to Dr. Koop, is the dramatic increase in the number of obese Americans (with a BMI of 30 and over) - those people who are most at risk for serious disease. According to the newest data, the prevalence of obesity increased from 12.0 percent in 1991 to 17.9 percent in 1998. A steady increase was observed in both sexes, among all age groups, races and educational levels, and occurred regardless of smoking status.

Looking at the spread of obesity on a state-by-state level, Dr. Koop further reported that unhealthy weight has increased steadily throughout the 1990's. Of 45 states tracked in a new study (published in the October 27, 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association), only four had obesity rates of 15 percent or higher in 1991. By 1998, 37 states had rates higher than 15 percent.

Shape Up America! has identified seven diseases - hypertension, cardiovascular disease, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and infertility - as co-morbid conditions for obesity where the diseases either worsen significantly as the degree of obesity increases or improve as the obesity is treated. Recent estimates suggest that obesity-related diseases may account for U.S. health care costs in excess of $100 billion annually.

To change these alarming statistics, Shape Up America! designed Shape Up & Drop 10, utilizing the most recent scientific understanding of weight loss, especially the finding that most people trying to lose weight are not reducing calorie intake while engaging in physical activity on a sustained basis. Although recent surveys find that more than two-thirds of U.S. adults are trying to lose or maintain their weight, research reveals that only one-fifth are combining eating fewer calories with moderate physical activity each week. Federal guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days for a total of 150 minutes a week. Further, studies show that to prevent regain of lost weight, 200 minutes of physical activity is needed each week.

Another way Shape Up & Drop 10 is unique is that it is the only weight loss/management program developed in response to voluntary guidelines developed by the Partnership for Healthy Weight Management, a coalition spearheaded by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Published in February 1999, the guidelines detail how weight loss products and services should be described to consumers, including easily understood disclosures about costs, health implications and expected weight loss goals.

"There has never been a time when the need for consumer friendly information to evaluate weight loss products and services is more critical," said Barbara J. Moore, Ph.D., president of Shape Up America! "By conforming to the new guidelines, Shape Up America! has developed a program that should be a model for the future."

Besides being designed to provide consumers with the information they need to make wise weight management choices, Shape Up & Drop 10 uses the latest computer technology so that each individual can set - and reset at will - his or her weight management goals based on current lifestyle, food and physical activity preferences. Unlike many commercial weight loss programs, Shape Up & Drop 10 offers a 24-hour weight management system offering online support whenever it is convenient for the individual.

"Shape Up & Drop 10 is not a one-size-fits-all program. Rather, it is a flexible program so that each person can tailor it to reflect what's going on in that individual's day-to-day life," explained Dr. Moore. "Shape Up & Drop 10 recognizes each person is unique and the diet and physical activity plan is customized for them accordingly."

Using Shape Up & Drop 10, each person goes through a series of assessments, using interactive technology to design an individualized weight management plan. Combining a personalized diet plan and fitness program, Shape Up & Drop 10 allows each individual to:

Shape Up & Drop 10 is an affordably-priced, pay-as-you-go system. In the first week, each person pays $15.00 to join ($5.00 to register and $10.00 for the first week). Thereafter, there is a weekly program fee of $10.00. The program is available to adults aged 18 years and over who have a BMI of at least 23.

Shape Up America! is the national non-profit educational campaign spearheaded by Dr. C. Everett Koop to elevate healthy weight and physical activity as priority concerns. A nationwide network of organizations representing the leading associations in the fields of medicine, public health, nutrition and physical activity, provide support for this initiative.

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