AOL, GMA Plan to Put America On a Diet

America Online and ABC’s Good Morning America are tackling the obesity epidemic with a year-long Web and TV content initiative.

“America Takes it Off” is designed to encourage Americans to pledge online to lose more than 50 million pounds next year. It will feature programming on the popular morning TV show, throughout AOL’s network, and on a new site. Good Morning America will begin promoting the program today, at the same time the site launches.

AOL will sell ads on the site and has inked eDiets to be the premier sponsor. The weight loss company will add some of its own resources and have modules branded with its name.

The initiative will kick off with a big cross-promotional blitz throughout the month of January, a popular time for Americans to focus on dieting to keep New Years’ resolutions and shed holiday pounds. The site, and the content in’s diet and exercise section, will remain in place all year, with additional ad campaigns planned around other “diet seasons,” like late spring, when dieters are getting ready for bathing suit weather.

January’s events will include several segments on Good Morning America throughout the month, as well as continual references by the hosts to the program and the site. AOL will promote the program throughout its network, including, AIM, and the AOL service, where it will have a spot on the AOL login screen for the entire month.

AOL and Good Morning America plan to hold competitions between cities, stage large-scale workouts, and reveal “30 ways for 30 days” to lose weight, Tina Sharkey, SVP of AOL network programming, told ClickZ News.

“As the first ever network-wide ‘special’ and Good Morning America’s first huge initiative with a Web partner, both entities are looking for fresh approaches to beat the competition,” Sharkey said.

The site will also leverage the power of community, with message boards, diet tip-sharing, and other user-generated content.

With the program, AOL hopes to gain new users from Good Morning America’s complementary audience, engage its current users, and bring attention to the fact that has content that is freely available, Sharkey said.

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