You’ve probably seen Dr. Ian Smith, the straightforward and frank diet expert, offer blunt weight-loss advice to contestants on VH1’s hit show, “Celebrity Fit Club.”
You’ve also probably read or heard about his bestselling weight-loss books or seen him host or appear on TV shows on BET, NBC and other networks.
Smith is passionate about fitness and he’s always involved in efforts to help people live healthier, fuller lives. Now, the physician, along with his 50 Million Pound Challenge campaign, has partnered with CVS Pharmacy to fight obesity and diabetes. Smith will spearhead the weight-loss component of the drive, which is part of a broader CVS initiative that will provide benefits to diabetes patients and caregivers; offer free health screenings in Atlanta, D.C. and Philadelphia; and offer tips to diabetics on managing their health and health care costs.
BET.com spoke with Smith about his partnership with CVS, “Celebrity Fit Club” and his new book, “Happy.”
Congratulations on your partnership with CVS. What are you doing specifically to target people most affected by diabetes?
Diabetes is reaching an epidemic proportion. Twenty-four million people are affected by it and 6 million of them don’t even know that they have it. They are undiagnosed. African Americans have two times the rate of diabetes compared with Whites. For Black women, one in every four has diabetes. We believe there is direct connection between that number and obesity. We eat more processed and fatty foods, we have lower fruit and vegetable intake and our activity levels are low. With these things stacked against us, we are disproportionately affected by the disease. We also suffer more from its complications – blindness, kidney disease, amputations.
How do people living with diabetes, and others concerned about diabetes prevention, get involved?
The 50 Million Pound Challenge is an independent effort focused on helping people lose weight. CVS comes along and says, ‘we love what you’re doing.’ What we’ve done is combine our resources with their much greater resources and together we will have a greater reach and impact more people. To get involved or find out more information about the program visit the 50 Million Pound Challenge site or CVS Pharmacy’s site.
The first lady’s "Let’s Move" initiative is beginning to take form and get traction in communities all across the country. Do you see a partnership between the 50 Million Pound challenge and Michelle Obama’s program?
Absolutely. Why not? We are echoing the same ideas, speaking the same message, preaching to the same choir. She has focused on many of the things the 50 Million Pound Challenge advocates: gardening, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise, healthy living. I am excited by what she’s doing and would love the opportunity to partner with her.
Will you be back on VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club?"
We have had seven great seasons and would love to be a part of an eighth one. Of course the decision isn’t mine and with shows as old as ours, you never know what will happen. During the eight weeks of the show, I enjoy helping the celebrities; but more than that, I enjoy helping millions of people that are watching find success and reach their goals.
You also have a new book, “Happy,” that’s not about fitness. It’s about finding “enduring happiness.” Please give our audience a gist of what it’s all about?
“Happy” is my seventh book and my most important. It touches everyone. Something will resonate with everyone. So many of us are in such a blue mood because of the economy, wars, relationship problems, etc. I offer simple strategies that can help boost happiness. Simple steps. What you’ll find upon reading, as I found when writing, are things you’ve been doing wrong as well as ways to do them right. It helped me as I was writing and I expect it to impact others.