Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Weight of the Nation

I just watched The Weight of the Nation. It's a fascinating 4-part series on the obesity epidemic: "Consequences", "Choices", "Children in Crisis", and "Challenges". It aired a couple months ago on HBO. If you missed it then (like I did), you can watch the entire thing online for free.

The film was produced in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It features interviews with public health experts, scientist and physicians. It also features case studies of families who are struggling with obesity. This film really illustrates the dangers of obesity, and the health problems that it causes.

In the last couple decades we have seen a rapid increase in the percent of the population that is overweight or obese. This is alarming from a health perspective, and will have far-reaching implications. This film looks at the causes of obesity and ways that we can change. It goes beyond the simple, eat less, and exercise more advice that everyone has heard. And, recognizes that this is a much deeper problem.

The film particularly focuses on overweight and obese children, who usually go on to be obese adults. It discusses the really harmful marketing of junk food to children. These ads are very effective in influencing the eating habits of children (and adults too), and getting them locked in on unhealthy habits at a very young age.

I found particularly interesting the role of government farming subsidies for corn and soy in the obesity epidemic. The film discusses the effect these subsidies have had in making high calorie, highly processed, fast food incredibly cheap compared to fresh fruits and vegetables. Really fascinating stuff.

Anyway, enough of my thoughts. Go check it out.

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