State Farm boosts campaign

BLOOMINGTON, IL: The principals behind a State Farm Insurance-sponsored, weight-loss Web site are behind the launch of a grassroots push to coach Americans, especially blacks, into losing a collective 50 million pounds.

BLOOMINGTON, IL: The principals behind a State Farm Insurance-sponsored, weight-loss Web site are behind the launch of a grassroots push to coach Americans, especially blacks, into losing a collective 50 million pounds.

The social networking and lifestyle-focused site, http://www.50millionpounds.com/, is a joint effort between State Farm and Dr. Ian Smith, a nutrition expert and media figure. It launched last year with a cross-country tour, featuring rallies and events. Since the launch, participants have claimed to have lost more than 1.5 million pounds. Now that the site has gained familiarity, State Farm and Smith have decided to take the campaign to churches, black colleges, and other black social organizations.

Though welcome for people of all races and ethnicities, Smith says he targeted blacks for their "high place on the list of overweight Americans."

"This stems from culinary cultural entrenchments, acceptable body images, and lack of available information on healthy living," Smith said.

In addition to the tour - accompanied by local media outreach, including e-mail blasts and press kits - State Farm and Smith have added site elements, such as message boards, diet plans, and a personal weight-loss tracker.

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