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Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Meet the Challenge: 12 Weeks to a Leaner, Healthier You
by American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) 

Because obesity is now recognized as a cause of many common cancers, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is introducing a free 12-week online program to help Americans lose weight and live healthier. 

On January 13, in time to help Americans stick to their New Year’s resolutions, AICR is launching the New American Plate Challenge. Participants – the Challengers – will receive a series of 12 weekly email challenges, each focused on a specific and achievable lifestyle goal, along with evidence-based advice and support. [Register at]

 “There’s no counting calories or adding points,” said AICR Associate Director for Nutrition Programs Alice Bender, MS, RDN. “The New American Plate Challenge provides a simple, visual model that’s all about proportion and portion size. And we know it works.”

The NAP Challenge turns AICR’s research-based recommendations into simple, practical goals engineered to lead to long-term behavior change.

Currently, two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. AICR’s expert report and its continuous updates show that excess body fat is a cause of seven cancers, including post-menopausal breast cancer, colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer. Body fat is metabolically active, releasing hormones and hormone-like growth factors into the bloodstream that can encourage the cancer process.

AICR’s recommendations focus on healthy weight, being physically active and moving towards a plant-based diet. Now, studies are showing that following AICR’s recommendations does lead to lower risk for certain cancers, and promotes better physical and mental health among cancer survivors. [LINK:]

A Simple Approach

The NAP Challenge online program promotes AICR’s award-winning New American Plate approach to meal planning, which is based on the AICR recommendations and shifts the proportions of the typical American meal to emphasize plant foods over animal foods.

Challengers will receive emails of encouragement from AICR’s registered dietitians and access to personal online journals and community forums where they can share triumphs and challenges while cheering each other on. 

“It’s not enough to give people information if they can’t make use of it,” said Bender. “The New American Plate Challenge was created to help people make AICR’s research on cancer prevention an everyday part of their lives. It allows us to engage with them directly, and makes it easy for them to engage with each other, to tailor a flexible plan that will help them lose weight and feel better.”

A Track Record of Success

To develop the NAP Challenge, AICR piloted the program with over 2000 participants.

On average, Challengers who tracked their weight and waist lost 5 pounds and 2 inches off their waistlines over the program’s 12 weeks. Many lost much more.

“This Challenge gave me the incentive to get back on track and lose the weight I gained over the last year and get active. As a cancer survivor, I highly recommend eating right and staying active,” said Michelle Ambrose, one of the many Challengers who responded to a survey about the experience.

To register for AICR’s free New American Plate Challenge, visit

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