There are days that I really miss school. Like, I miss going to class and studying and even, cough, taking exams. (Yep, I might have been that annoying girl you sat next to in class who took a million notes and highlighted virtually everything she read. Sorry.) I think that’s a lot of the reason why I love documentaries. It’s like going to class and learning! And the HBO documentary The Weight of the Nation, is like a crash course in the obesity epidemic in America—plus.
Being that I do what I do, I know quite a bit about obesity. And I’m sure you do, too. The statistics are everywhere: more than one-third of Americans are obese and that number may top 40 percent by 2020. You’ve probably also heard that if trends continue, obesity will cost the USA about $344 billion in medical-related expenses by 2018, which is about 21 percent of total health-care spending. I think we can all agree that’s staggering, but this documentary does more than just throw shocking numbers at you (although there’s plenty of that). It really goes into the multifaceted reasons why we’re getting heavier and what the heck we can do about it.
HBO pulled together the Institute of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente for this four-part series that interviews leading experts and individuals and their families struggling with obesity. In the first film, Consequences, you get the nitty gritty on the obesity epidemic and the serious health consequences of being overweight or obese. The second part is called Choices, and gets into more of the “what to do about it,” including what science has shown about how to lose weight, maintain weight-loss and prevent weight gain. Up next, Children in Crisis goes into detail through individual stories the damage obesity is doing to kids and the strong forces at work in our society that are causing them to eat too many calories and move too little. We’re talking everything from school lunches to the decline of physical education, the demise of school recess and the marketing of unhealthy food to children. Yeah, big issues. The final film, Challenges, dives into the agriculture, economics, evolutionary biology, food marketing, racial and socioeconomic disparities, physical inactivity, American food culture, and the strong influence of the food and beverage industry issues at play. There are also a number of bonus shorts that tackle everything from the connection between poverty and obesity to if weight is something we inherit to how a mother’s weight can affect her baby’s health. Oh, and there are even all kinds of free online resources on how you can take action and make a difference.
Yep, it’s a lot of info. Like, a really impressive amount of research on this subject. While its certainly not as entertaining as, say Super Size Me, it’s also much more comprehensive and complete. Although I wish they spent a bit more on the emotional side of overeating and living a healthy lifestyle (they do touch on food as love, food addiction and mindful eating though, which rocks!) and I don’t agree with all of their weight-loss recommendations (I know being aware of calories is important, but y’all know how I feel about obsessively counting them!), I seriously can’t recommend this series enough. It not only shares just how important and complicated this issue is, but it also puts a human face on obesity and shares the deep struggles and the uphill climb so many face.
In order to do our own part in sharing this important info, we’d like to give away our review copy of The Weight of the Nation. To enter to win, all you have to do is comment with who you’ll watch this series with. Ideally, we’d like the winner to reach as many people as possible. (We’re thinking the winner could host a friend or family watch party—or even a workplace wellness event!) We’ll pick a U.S. winner in about a week and notify them via email and in the comments.
So get to commenting, ladies! We’ve got a nation to change! —Jenn