The Weight of the Nation: It's Too Heavy!

Obesity is becoming the biggest health threat in the U.S.

You know the stats: Two-thirds of us are overweight or obese, meaning just one-third of Americans aren’t fat. And, no surprise, raising fat kids. More than 30 percent of American children are overweight or obese. The problem is -- well, one of them, anyway -- is that none of us recognizes ourselves as fat. A new four-part HBO documentary series Weight of the Nation, debuting tonight, highlights some pretty alarming facts, like our kids may have a lower life expectancy than us because of obesity.

What’s to account for this? Weight of the Nation breaks it down like this: We are wired to eat as much of the most calorie-dense food we can whenever we can. It's the survival mechanism helped protect us against famine. So now, when faced with the choice between a salad and a pizza, we crave the pizza.

Unfortunately, it is much easier to grab a fast-food combo meal than it is to whip up a salad, or even eat a premade salad on the road, on account of those pesky utensils. Junk food is convenient and ubiquitous. Healthy food is not. And advertisers market the crap out of crap food, so even when you’re trying to mind your own business and watch some TV, you’re inundated with pictures of mouth-watering processed foodstuff. And it’s like being hypnotized. Must. Have. Neon. Orange. Chemical. Poufs. Nooooow!

And it’s not just your health that’s at stake, caution the filmmakers. The final words of the trailer: “Obesity will crush the United States into oblivion. To win, we have to lose.”  But despite the sensationalist approach, they’re clearly on to something. It takes Superman-like powers to resist all the junk food that’s out there -- and it’s impossible to expect our kids to engage that muscle when even we have a tough time doing it. What we need is a “just say no” campaign akin to the drug-free commercials of the 80s, because, truly, most processed food is that dangerous. And that’s what this documentary aims to do: Teach us just how dangerous each seemingly inconsequential choice can be over time. Our health, and that of our kids, depends on it.

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