The weight of the nation

Yesterday started off pretty crappy, but ended on a high note. For starters, I was not responsible for any children for several evening hours. That almost always leads to a good night, no matter what else I’m doing. Things continued to go uphill when I met this broccoli at the entrance of the event I was attending. You know the night is going to be awesome when there are photo ops with veggies!

No, I was not at some weird produce-themed costume party (otherwise I’d be wearing a banana outfit or something). I was lucky enough to attend a pre-screening of the The Weight of the Nation, a multi-part documentary series on the obesity epidemic. Airing on HBO beginning May 14, The Weight of the Nation is a collaboration between HBO and the Institute of Medicine, in association with the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, and in partnership with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente. Made over the course of three years, the project includes four documentary films, a three-part family series and 12 bonus shorts. Whew, that’s a mouthful.

Check it out

I got to view the first film, “Consequences,” which delves into the obesity crisis facing many Americans. It was one of the best pieces I’ve ever seen on the topic. Research and statistics from prominent faces in science and public health were mixed with the stories and struggles of real people, as well as a succinct explanation of the birth and structure of our (broken) food system. For example, according to experts in the film, there is a 90 percent profit margin on soda, compared to just 10 percent on fresh produce. That’s just one example of how backwards we have things in this country.

Today, we find ourselves victims of the perfect storm of technological advancement, farming subsidies, Big Food, and a painfully slow government unable to move within the constraints of its current framework. As one expert in the film said, “We engineered physical activity out of our lives.”

Oh yeah, and evolution kind of screwed us too.

Still, there is hope. The film provides an inkling of that by showing the impact of grassroots efforts and employee wellness programs. Based on the descriptions of the other films, it looks like there’s more guidance to come.

I urge you (actually, I think I’d even resort to begging or bribing) to watch this series. Watch it with your family, neighbors and friends. Tell other people to watch it. Talk about it at work, at school, at the dinner table. You can even request a screening kit, and host a screening party in your community.

The Weight of the Nation is available exclusively on HBO, starting with “Consequences” on May 14, and continuing with “Choices,” “Children in Crisis,” “Challenges,” and “The Great Cafeteria Takeover,” through May 16. A series of three, half-hour films titled, “The Weight of the Nation for Kids,” debuts in the fall. You can bet I’ll remind you about that one. And don’t worry if you’re not an HBO subscriber; the entire series will stream online for free.

For more information, or to request a screening kit, visit the website, here.

Btw, as usual, the only thing I gain from promoting this project is that it gets out a message I passionately support, (translation: no moola for me).

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