HBO documentary 'Weight of the Nation' explores nation's obesity epidemic

(Photo: Toby Otter/flickr)

There’s an unprecedented public health campaign aimed at fighting the nation’s obesity epidemic.

It’s called the "Weight of the Nation” and it includes a book, documentary and a conference in D.C., one of the fattest cities in the country.

D.C. resident Katrina Jones is not one bit surprise to hear 66 percent of Americans are now overweight or obese.

“It’s a struggle to find he time to work on being physical which what helps is keeping the wait down," she said.

Even more stressful for this young mother of two is the fact that studies show that one in five children are currently overweight or at risk of fighting obesity.

"Things have changed so much we’re not as active as we once were,” Jones said.

This epidemic has received an enormous amount of attention in recent years, thanks, in part, to First Lady Michelle Obama's aggressive attempt to get America's youth back in shape.

'It's very clear that the issue of obesity is not going to get solved in the doctor’s office or in the hospital,” said Raymond Baxter, Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president for Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy.

Now a first-of-its kind documentary series is targeting the array of factors that feed the country's obesity problem, ranging from the craving of food to restaurant portion sizes that pack a day's worth of calories into one meal.

Dr. Judith Salerno, Executive Officer of the Institute of Medicine, can easily explain why two-thirds of the U.S. population fails to eat right and exercise.

“Even our plate sizes are getting bigger,” she said. “We’ve gone from a 9-inch plate to a 12-inch plate."

D.C. currently has the highest prevalence of overweight children in the U.S. at 23 percent. In the city, half of the top 10 causes of death are directly related to diet and weight.

"Kids born today, they have a 50 percent chance of developing type-two diabetes if you’re African American or Latino,” Dr. Salerno said.

The HBO documentary series 'The Weight of the Nation,' which is being distributed to more than 40 thousand organizations and premiers next week, is touting itself as the most far reaching health campaign on this issue.

"I think people are really recognize the way we are living our lives, is not working," said John Hoffman, executive producer.

It is the showcase at this week's obesity conference in the District.

"It's provocative," said Baxter said. "Some people are shocked by it, some people are angry about it, some people are deeply moved by it because it’s built around the stories who are struggling with the illnesses that come with that weight."

The Weight of the Nation is set to air on HBO on May 14.

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