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Contact: Cindy Karra -- 202-974-5009

Dr. C. Everett Koop Brings His Anti-Obesity Message To Cyberspace

Washington, DC; October 29, 1996 -- As U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop used the mail to inform American households about AIDS prevention. Now as a public health leader, he is going on cyberspace to educate the public about the importance of healthy weight. Recognizing the growing power of the Internet as an information source, Dr. Koop's anti-obesity campaign -- Shape Up America! -- has launched a new cyberspace clinic where the public, health professionals, policymakers and the media can get the latest facts on obesity and the recommended ways to treat it. With the goal of promoting a new understanding about healthy weight and physical activity among Americans, the new website also provides a variety of recommendations for making simple changes in dietary choices and exercise habits that are readily achievable. A key feature of the cyberspace clinic is helping Americans learn their Body Mass Index or BMI, a number that health authorities consider the most important in screening for obesity. Incorporating state-of-the-art interactive technology, the new website converts the visitor's height and weight measurements into a personalized BMI number, then offers information on what the BMI level means and provides specific "buttons" to click onto for more facts about weight loss strategies.

"Everyone should know his or her BMI," said Dr. Koop. "It's a number that has as much health significance as your blood pressure or cholesterol count." Towards this end, Dr. Koop designed his website so that visitors will not only be able to learn their BMI but why health authorities are concerned about BMI as an indicator of a person's health status. The website also has another important function: providing the most up-to-date facts on obesity treatment for physicians and other health care professionals. Specifically, the site contains a special link for practitioners so they can download, print or read full-text summary information from the newly released Guidance for Treatment of Adult Obesity. Developed jointly by Shape Up America! and the American Obesity Association, the document was reviewed for accuracy by 16 national medical, public health and nutrition societies. Besides providing recommendations on identifying at-risk patients, the reference includes specific guidance on weight management through the use of drug therapy, surgery and very low calorie diets.

"With more than 58 million American adults - one third the population - overweight or obese, it is essential that we continue to promote a new understanding by Americans of the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, improved diet, and increased activity levels" says Barbara J. Moore, Ph.D., President of Shape Up America! "Our new internet site will inform individuals on a personal level about weight management while also helping physicians and other healthcare professionals to treat obese patients effectively." As visitors click on the website, they will be greeted at the clinic's reception desk and offered a menu of information found on the site such as:

BMI Center - visitors can interactively calculate their BMI (Body Mass Index), which is the relationship between height and weight and is used to assess a patient's health risk profile.

Health & Fitness Center - visitors will find themselves in a gym with equipment, scales and a personal trainer who will help assess their fitness level and offer a selection of physical activities.

Media Center - media users can find the latest Shape Up America! press releases and other information about the health risks of obesity.

Professional Center - healthcare professionals can download the medical treatment guidance and various health and nutrition-related educational tools.

General Information - visitors can obtain general background on the issue of obesity and the activities of Shape Up America!

Shape Up America! is the national campaign spearheaded by Dr. C. Everett Koop to evaluate healthy weight and increased physical activity as priority concerns. A nationwide network of over 40 organizations, representing the leading associations in the fields of medicine, public health, nutrition, and physical activity provide support for this new initiative. The address for the Shape Up America! cyberspace clinic is www.shapeup.org.

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