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Contact: Cindy Karra -- 202-974-5009

Dr. Koop's Shape Up America! Launches a Support Center in Cyberspace to Tackle Weight Loss Issues

Provides New Help for Coping with the Holidays

For Immediate Release 

Washington, DC; November 24, 1998 - Just in time for the holidays, Dr. C. Everett Koop, the former U.S. Surgeon General, and founder of Shape Up America!, has a special gift for the millions of Americans who are worried about gaining weight during this rime of parties and family gatherings.

After many months of planning, Shape Up America! has launched a new cyberspace Support Center where people can get individualized help on a 24-hour basis to deal with their weight control struggles. Developed in consultation with experts in behavior modification, nutrition and physical activity, the Support Center has been added to the Shape Up America! website (www.shapeup.org) to help people confront seasonal pressures, like the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, as well as ongoing obstacles to achieving a healthier weight.

"Today, the biggest challenge isn't convincing Americans about the value of keeping their weight in check; it's inspiring them to keep going when weight control becomes difficult," said Dr. Koop. "This new Support Center is designed to give people the help they need to stay on track."

Recognizing that "staying on track" is especially challenging during the holidays, Shape Up America! has added a special section to the Support Center that focuses on holiday weight management. Among the cooking, eating and stress reducing tips offered, Shape Up America! addresses the problem of overeating by encouraging prioritization of holiday foods into three categories: 1) foods I absolutely must eat or it won't seem like the holidays; 2) foods I enjoy but they don't threaten me; and 3) foods I can live without. Shape Up America! recommends zeroing in on the "absolutely must eat" category to choose one or two favorite foods to eat at Thanksgiving, the same or two different foods to enjoy over Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa and the one or two favorites to eat around New Year's celebrations. The challenge is to enjoy these foods without having them defeat you.

Because many holiday foods are prepared at home, the Support Center has this practical advice:

"Food is here to be enjoyed - especially at holiday times. Many people need support to get the most out of festivities when they are surrounded by tempting foods that may spin them out of control," said Barbara J. Moore, Ph.D., president of Shape Up America! "Our new Support Center will help millions of overweight Americans cope with these and everyday challenges that make weight management so hard to achieve," she added.

As visitor's click on the Support Center's homepage, they will be offered a menu of options found on the site, such as:

The Shape Up America! website was originally launched in October 1996. Since then, it has received numerous awards for providing solutions-oriented information to the general public about weight-related issues. www.shapeup.org now receives between two and three million hits per month.

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