July 12, 2006 2:47 PM PDT

Weight loss site ventures into social networking

SparkPeople.com, a site that offers advice on weight loss, nutrition and exercise, announced Wednesday that it has launched a social-networking service that will let people interact and participate in community groups.

Previously, SparkPeople had offered message boards so that site members could talk about topics ranging from low-fat diet strategies to the best running shoes. Now those discussion forums are being supplemented by new features that aim to capitalize on the popularity of social-networking sites such as MySpace.com.

Participants will be able to create profiles where they can upload pictures, write blog entries, send messages to other users and build friends lists. Additionally, the company has launched online community groups it calls "SparkTeams" in order to draw together users who share common interests within the broader categories of dieting, health and fitness.

SparkPeople's average member, according to founder and CEO Chris Downie, is a 31- to 36-year-old female. But he emphasized that registered users run the gamut from the site's minimum age of 18 through people in their 70s and 80s, and are divided between both genders. "We're really all over the place," he said.

Despite the explosive spread of social networks that some have likened to the doomed dot-com bubble, Downie is confident that SparkPeople's new service will find its niche. One reason he cited is that most of the site's existing members--75 percent, according to an internal survey--do not use other social-networking sites.

SparkPeople's average demographic "has been used to joining weight loss sites like eDiets and Weight Watchers, but I would guess that this is their first experience with social-networking communities," he said. Downie added that SparkPeople is the first--and so far, only--weight loss site to offer extensive social-networking capabilities.

A veteran of Procter & Gamble and then eBay, Downie founded SparkPeople as an extension of his own personal fitness philosophy. "As a kid I was shy and had anxiety," he said, "and I developed this program that combined goal setting to help your mind with diet and exercise to help your body."

Downie insisted that SparkPeople is more than just another fad-diet site. "A lot of people will join to just lose weight, but we help them make this lifestyle change and also set goals in other areas of life as well," he said.

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Spark is GREAT it helped me lose my original huge amount of weight, but, I had trouble, OVER A YEAR trying to lose the last few pounds.

And People always ask me how I did lose that last 20 pounds in a month without a diet, and at first I only let my best friend in on the secret but, eventually, I had to come clean because, well, because what I used cleansed my system of toxins so not just weight loss but, cleaner body. I love the fiber complex and I really like the complete diet complex. My sister lost 16 pounds in 30 days and my best friend lost 12! Model Herbs is something that I stumbled across early one morning at work sipping my coffee, eating my morning pastry. I figured it was worth a try and I am so glad I did.
Posted by sparkerwife (1 comment )
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Reducing the calories and having more physical activity is a good way to lose weight. Avoid the mode diets that promise quick or easy weight loss.
Posted by fatweightloss (1 comment )
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This is a great idea. It helps to lose weight in teams because of the support they offer- so a social networking site related to weight loss is a brilliant concept. Another excellent weight loss site is FitClick.com, which has diet and exercise advice, smart recipes, and an awesome <a href="http://www.fitclick.com/calorie_counter">calorie counter</a>.
Posted by NaomiFairfax (6 comments )
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Try the Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge for an easy, healthy and tasty way to lose weight.
Visit http://bodybymari.bodybyvi.com and watch the 3 short videos. Then just hit the button JOIN THE CHALLENGE.
Posted by BodyByVi90DayChallenge (1 comment )
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I think any conversation about weight loss social networks needs to include weightlosswars which is the longest running, largest weight loss contest/ weight loss challenge, and weight loss competition website.

They are basically a do-it-yourself biggest loser at work website where you can create your own challenges, run them, etc. You can also join other peoples' challenges or whatever! they're great.

Posted by tammyraisinberg (1 comment )
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