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'The Weight of the Nation' review: Obesity crisis
Courtesy of David Wiegand, SFGate.com
Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012
We've all seen the TV news reports on obesity in the United States, fresh statistics from the latest study, read with professional detachment, while images of pudgy bodies cross the screen, their faces blurred or heads just out of the camera frame. It's been going on for years, as much a staple of TV news as the weather report.
Unlike the weather, though, there is a lot Americans can do about weight problems, and every minute we delay is not only critical but both deadly and expensive - expensive as in billions of dollars taken from the pockets of taxpayers and businesses. Obesity is an epidemic and perhaps America's biggest health problem.
That's the message pounded home with singular effectiveness in HBO's four-part, multidisciplinary documentary "The Weight of the Nation." Produced by Sheila Nevins and John Hoffman, "Weight" pulls no punches, spares neither the multibillion-dollar food and advertising industries nor public officials for not only failing to fix the problem but actually making it worse, and essentially writes a prescription for the nation's health and economic future that we ignore to our peril. . . .
. . . How fat are we? Plenty. More than two-thirds of adults are overweight and one-third are obese, while one-third of our children and adolescents are overweight and 18 percent are obese. Obesity contributes to five of the 10 leading causes of death in America, costs business more than $73 billion a year, adds $150 billion to health costs now and may hit $300 billion by 2018.
How did we get this way? Beginning in the late 20th century, we moved to a food industry based on what Dr. Kelly Brownell of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity calls "a cheap-food model." The cheapest food is also the least healthy. The category not only includes all kinds of packaged, processed foods, but, of course, fast food offerings, which have become the plaque-building lifeblood of the American diet. . . .
Some 40 to 50 percent of food eaten by kids is consumed at school, and school cafeterias, which have to be financially self-sufficient, push unhealthy, packaged food at kids. . . .
Read the rest of David Wiegand's review.