|Scared skinny: HBO's 'Weight of the Nation' an eye opener, obesity expert agrees|
The four-part 'Weight of the Nation' is part of HBO's public service efforts to reveal how obesity has affected Americans and what can be done to correct it. It begins tonight on HBO (May 14).
"The Weight of the Nation," HBO's new four-part documentary exploring the rising obesity ratesamong Americans, brings the fat out of the closet.
We are way too fat and our kids are fatter than ever in the history of humankind. In fact, experts interviewed for HBO conclude many of the obese children will die before their parents.
Obesity ushers in painful joints, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and many cancers, and it affects the nation's quality of life span.
Over two-thirds of adults age 20 and older and nearly one-third of children are overweight and/or obese; 26 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes and more than 79 million are pre-diabetic.
HBO delivers this grim news in four events: "Consequences," "Choices, " "Children in Crisis" and "Challenges" running Monday and Tuesday, with a separate three-part series called "The Weight of the Nation for Kids" debuting on Wednesday.
But the bright spot was the fact that losing just 7-10% of your overall body weight brings about physical health benefits.
Three years in the making, this limited series offers an unflinching look at the severity of the obesity crisis, highlighting the groundwork for the societal transformations that must take place in order to slow, arrest and eventually reverse the prevalence of obesity and bring the nation to a healthier weight.
"The Weight of the Nation" mostly tells us what we already know. Sodas, juice, sugary breakfast cereals, fast food and its ilk are all bad. Fresh food costs more than junk food, which puts the poor in fat city (carbs are cheap). You need to get up and sweat and move, daily.
Noted bariatric surgeon and obesity expert Dr. Carson D. Liu, MD, FACS, FASMBS, a frequent Monsters and Critics' contributor to our Lifestyle and Health section, screened the series with TV reviewer/editor April MacIntyre.
"I watched through all five episodes of DVD from HBO, and I would say that this was a very realistic view of obesity. I really enjoyed seeing the twin studies as well as the bariatric surgery which had some complications and this may scare people from seeking surgery for weight loss. Surgical intervention of obesity has been shown to be the best treatment in reversing diabetes and hypertension more than any other medical treatment."
"The overall problem with childhood obesity is very alarming and I think that HBO has done a perfect job of capturing what we can do to help prevent this from becoming a major problem in the future which is through education on diet and exercise. Surgical treatments are still the best alternative for weight loss but diet and exercise are still required in order to achieve success."
Dr. Liu urged parents to especially tune in to The Weight of the Nation for Kids: The Great Cafeteria Takeover - which debuts May 16:
According to a survey published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2009, roughly 94% of schools served a lunch that failed to meet federal standards for healthy school meals, and 80% of the lunches served in those schools exceeded federal recommendations for total fat and saturated fat.
Armed with these startling facts, a group of New Orleans kids – who dubbed themselves the Rethinkers – set out to make a difference in their community during the post-Katrina rebuilding period. This leg of the Weight documentary shows how they transformed their school lunch menu when it debuts Wednesday, May 16 (7:00-7:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.In their campaign to change school lunch menus, the Rethinkers surveyed students at schools in their community and issued annual report cards to attract media coverage and capture the attention of decision-makers.
The Rethinkers met with school officials and corporate executives from Aramark, one of the nation’s largest food service providers, to get them thinking about the quality of school meals and how they could be improved.
Using the report cards and survey results, the kids negotiated with Aramark to provide healthier food choices. When a general agreement to provide more local, healthy fooddid not result in change, the kids held the school officials’ and the company’s feet to the fire and finally arrived at a specific agreement to serve fresh, locally produced food at least two times a week.
Among the young people featured in the film are:
Lucy Tucker – A passionate student who is dedicated to presenting adult decision-makers with student survey data that they can use to provide healthier food options.
Victoria Carter – A student who cares deeply about the goals of the Rethinkers and wants adults to listen and act.
Ron Triggs – A younger student who is pleased to deliver the results of the report card at a Rethinkers’ press conference highlighting each school’s “grade.”
“Thirty-three percent of people within the State of Louisiana are obese,” says Johanna Gilligan, an adult advisor to the Rethinkers. “People are finally realizing that they have no idea where their food has come from, they have no idea what’s happened to it before it got to them.”
“We, as Rethinkers, know that adults will listen to us if we have great ideas and solutions, instead of just complaining,” says Carter.
“We are very excited about our new agreement,” adds Rethinker Jada Cooper. “We hope as the years go on, school food will continue to improve, and that every child in New Orleans will have a healthy school lunch with fresh local food, school gardens and food education.”
For more information, visit www.hbo.com/theweightofthenation.
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