Got this announcement from some of LeBron’s peoples and we are happy to pass it along. Nice work, King James!

LeBron James and Mayor Frank Jackson invite Cleveland residents to join in a new program that encourages individuals to improve their lifestyle through a group-oriented and FREE health and fitness plan – the Cleveland City Challenge. The city challenge is an extension of the 50 Million Pound Challenge – the successful national initiative founded by physician and VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club” diet expert Dr. Ian Smith. Dr. Ian will join LeBron James in issuing a call to action for his city and fans to join him in the fight to lead healthier lifestyles by registering at 50millionpounds.com and also joining the new citywide FIT 4 CLEVELAND team. The Challenge has already seen over half a million participants lose over 2 million pounds collectively! Research shows that weight loss can be more effective when tackled as a group. The city challenge is expected to be a highly valuable tool to help participants achieve weight-loss success while contributing to the campaign’s 50 million pound goal.

“It has been extremely inspiring and rewarding watching people shed pounds and gain self-esteem, health and happiness as a result of their participation in The Challenge,” said Dr. Ian Smith, author of the NY Times #1 best-seller The Fat Smash Diet. “The City Challenge will increase the program’s impact by helping individuals realize the benefits of working with a support team while striving to live a healthy lifestyle. I hope other cities take up the cause and enlist champions like LeBron and Mayor Jackson to help their citizens improve their health and lives.”

“How to maintain a healthy lifestyle is something that everyone needs to know about,” said LeBron James. “I am proud to be a part of the Cleveland City Challenge. I’m proud to team up with the Challenge and encourage people to join the my FIT 4 CLEVELAND team and access the free resources that show people how important and easy it actually is to stay fit and healthy. It’s exciting for me to give back in this way.”

“People all across the country have banded together to take control of their life and health and lose the weight that has been negatively impacting their health. There are more than 10,000 Challenge teams helping members lose nearly 25% more weight than the individual average. That’s a winning formula,” said Dr. Ian. “With the City Challenge, those successful results are only going to increase. Together we have the ability to resist temptation and do what it takes to reverse the obesity epidemic that is plaguing our country and in turn create a culture of healthy living.”

Backed by hundreds of civic and celebrity champions, elected officials and national health and civic groups, The Challenge is one of the most far-reaching initiatives of its kind. The city challenge effort will only increase its reach. It has already taken on over half a million participants and taken off more than 2 million pounds. Anyone can join at 50millionpounds.com, an online support community that tallies the total pounds lost and offers free resources, including a personal weight tracker to measure progress. People can also get a Challenge kit with a CD, brochure, menu and fitness advice, and a pedometer to count steps from State Farm® agents nationwide. Kits and all Challenge resources are free, thanks to sponsor State Farm. On the site, people can form and join as many teams as they want. The FIT 4 CLEVELAND team is open to all Cleveland residents and will help the city track its collective progress.

A study in the July 2007 New England Journal of Medicine found that close friends and family set a powerful example for each other—they tend to gain but can also lose weight together. The Challenge aims to reach its goal by making it easier for millions to fight the epidemic of excess weight threatening half of all Americans. More than 135 million Americans and two in three adults are overweight, double the rate a few decades ago. Each week, 10,000 die from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other illness related to inactivity and diet. African-Americans are especially hard hit: 80% of women and 67% of men face higher risk from weight-related diseases, with life expectancy five years below the U.S. average.