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Wednesday, September 9, 1998

New Software is First to Guarantee Weight-Loss Goals

Turns Computer into "Personal Trainer"

DANBURY, Conn. (September 9, 1998)—A young software company in this New York City suburb has announced the world's first nutrition program that can guarantee reaching a weight goal on schedule. Called DietPower, the new "personal trainer on a disk" is being released in a free sneak-preview version via the World Wide Web and an 800 number.

"DietPower is based on a simple truth: If you can only see how each food and exercise will affect your progress, you will naturally make healthier choices," says Terry Dunkle, president of DietPower, Inc.

To create the program, Dunkle's team consulted dozens of experts in fields ranging from exercise physiology to human behavior. One was Dr. Robert Epstein, founder of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies in Cambridge, Mass. "We've known for decades that the easiest way to change behavior is simply to become more aware of it," says Epstein. "DietPower is a user-friendly tool that makes you exquisitely aware."

Dunkle, 49, began designing DietPower in 1988, when he was a top editor at Reader's Digest. He is now executive producer and editor-in-chief of HealthScout, a personalized daily health-news service that he invented for the World Wide Web, and Remedy Online, a forthcoming Web site attached to the 2-million-circulation health magazine Remedy.

Dunkle's company tested a prototype of DietPower, called Perfect Diet, for five years in 800 households. A pilot survey showed an average loss of 14 pounds per household, with 85 percent of users keeping the weight off for two years or more. Some lost over 100 pounds.

Besides weight loss, DietPower is designed to help with weight maintenance, weight gain and nutrient balance—cutting cholesterol or raising calcium intake, for example. It works alone or in combination with other popular systems, including Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, the Zone Diet and dozens more. It also works with diet drugs.

DietPower begins by asking the user to enter a goal weight and target date. The program responds with a daily calorie budget that—at first—assumes the user has an average metabolism. But as the user logs meals, exercise and weight changes, DietPower "learns" the true metabolic rate and adjusts the budget accordingly. "Because the budget is based on what's actually happening in your body," says Dunkle, "you cannot fail to reach your goal on schedule if you follow the program faithfully." The program tracks most people's weight within a pound for months on end.

DietPower also reveals each user's balance of 33 different nutrients for the past day, week, month, quarter and year. Besides the four "energy nutrients" (fat, carbohydrate, protein and alcohol), the program monitors sodium, fiber, cholesterol, calcium, iron, folate, and all the major vitamins. It also tracks selenium, potassium, zinc and other minerals important in fighting cancer, heart disease and birth defects. Each user's charts are adjusted for age, sex and special health concerns such as high blood pressure and pregnancy.

As it learns more about its user, DietPower delivers customized "Food for Thought" each time the user logs on. Sometimes the advice is practical ("Sour cream contains only one-fourth as much fat as butter does"). Other times, it's inspiring ("One must eat to live, not live to eat") or amusing ("Never work before breakfast. If you have to work before breakfast, get your breakfast first").

Food for Thought is also customized to the user's goals and habits. A male smoker on a reducing diet, for instance, gets different advice than a female nonsmoker on maintenance.

DietPower comes in three forms: 1) a personal edition that can handle up to nine users within a household, 2) a large-group edition for health clubs, corporate wellness programs and the like, and 3) a consultant's edition for doctors, nutritionists, sports trainers and other personal advisers. All three editions let users copy their records onto a "travel disk" that can be carried back and forth between home and office computers.

"Because each user's main activity is logging meals," said Dunkle, "we've put enormous effort into making that part of the process lightning-fast." DietPower's food dictionary contains 16,000 entries ("everything from Abalone to Zabaglione"), yet a typical user can log a meal in as little as a minute.

The program also enables users to:

DietPower's 100,000-word Help system (as long as an average novel) is packed with insights on nutrition and fitness—yet as readable as the famous magazines Dunkle has edited.

Designed for any computer using Windows 95 or later, DietPower requires a machine of the 486 class or higher with 8 megabytes of memory and 10 megabytes of disk space. Although the program normally retails at $69.99, it is being offered at $49.99* until November 1.

A free 15-day trial of the the latest version of DietPower is available on a CD-ROM or by downloading from www.dietpower.com, where users can also order a $49.99* "unlock code" that makes the program work permanently. For further information, company contacts are at www.dietpower.com/contact_us.php.

On June 12, 2008, this was lowered to $39.99.

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