Weight of the Nation

Written by Sara Padilla on 25 May 2012.

Name: Weight of the Nation

Network: HBO

In a Nutshell: Informational - 4 out of 5 shovels


Houston, we have a problem.

It’s well documented that the condition of overweight/obesity has exploded over the past three decades.  On May 14, HBO launched a four-part documentary series exploring personal stories and research focused on the obesity epidemic and the consequences of being overweight or obese.


The Weight of the Nation campaign is led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in partnership with Kaiser Permanente and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

The film starts out strong, with compelling evidence that obesity is indeed a factor for significant risk of chronic disease that impacts us in serious and troubling ways. Diabetes and heart disease are not only uncommon anymore; they are increasingly present in youth and young adults. The economic implications are astounding.

But what to do about it?

According to WOTN, strong forces are at work that have caused the perfect storm for overweight/obesity:  junk food marketing to kids, availability of cheap and highly processed foods, agriculture, American food culture, and physical inactivity are just some of those forces.

A lot has been written in support of WOTN; some, however, suggest it doesn’t go far enough. Some critics suggest it encourages size shaming and stigma.

But there is no question that we must continue to examine the influence of the food industry with a greater eye toward how it operates --- and call for change – if we are to make a difference in the lives of young people who are overwhelmed in the presence of junk and fast food marketing. We must continue to examine ethnic and racial disparities and access to healthy food in all communities.

And we must bring back activity into the lives of young people – and not necessarily P.E. class – but field trips to farms and farmers markets and county fairs.

Watch Weight of the Nation (available on HBO’s website) and tell us what you think.


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