Historically “epidemics” have been due to infectious diseases. Unfortunately we are now in the midst of an epidemic that is totally preventable: obesity. It’s a pretty simple calculation really. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. What’s a little more complicated is WHY this has become so prevalent in our society. It is estimated 30% of Americans are overweight and another 30% are obese. What people need to understand is not only how serious and widespread the problem of obesity is, but also just how COMPLEX the solution is. It’s about a whole lot more than just “eat right and exercise” and professionals who are working with people who are living with chronic diseases and obesity MUST understand this.
The HBO documentary series “The Weight of the Nation” seeks to explore the issue of obesity as well as it’s contributing factors and possible solutions. At the writing of this blog, the four-part series is available for viewing online. If you don’t have the time to watch all of them, at least watch the segment titled “Challenges”. It examines the major driving forces causing the obesity epidemic, including agriculture and the changes in our food production, economics, evolutionary biology and hunger, food marketing, racial and socioeconomic disparities, physical inactivity, American food culture, and the strong influence of the food and beverage industry. A larger and very disturbing theme throughout the series is the role that governmental policy (or lack thereof) is playing in the well being of our country. The Weight of the Nation should be required viewing for anyone who eats food.