Last night I had the opportunity to watch HBO's latest documentary The Weight of the Nation. I highly recommend it to anyone who is concerned about our nation's growing obesity epidemic.
I don't envy the documentarians who faced the daunting task of presenting this complex problem to the American people. Where does one start to raise the red flag without sounding like an alarmist? How does a filmmaker solicit empathy for those affected without assigning blame or dismissing personal responsibility? It was a very fine line that the filmmakers had to walk and they walked it quite well.
The documentary was broken down into three parts; consequences, choices, and children in crisis. Alternately, you can view it On Demand as a series of short features by topic. I suggest watching all three parts in full before watching the edited shorts separately.
This film series covers the basic facts and intersperses a series of personal stories that seeks to put real faces on this epidemic. With 68% of the American population overweight, we need only look in the mirror to recognize the problem. Only after we acknowledge that this is becoming an epidemic will we be able to confront it.
It is almost impossible to recap all the information that comes at the viewer throughout the first three parts of this film. There are a lot of startling statistics and disturbing correlations. Amidst the experts speaking to us in conversational tone, we find people who have confronted the problem head-on and are taking bold steps to solve it both individually and communally. You will find plenty of inspiration in this documentary.
One of the short features that I viewed separately was on Nashville Tennessee and the mayor's plan to make the city more accessible to all citizens seeking physical activity. With 30% of his residents obese, he believes that it is important to get citizens out walking and riding bikes. The progress being made in Nashville is impressive.
As a bicycling advocate, this documentary reinforces my argument for improved active transportation infrastructure. I consider the recognition of bicycling as a healthy lifestyle choice but one small value of this film.
I encourage each of you to view this series on HBO (scheduled, On Demand, or online). I plan on posting about it again once more people are familiar with its content and are ready for further discussion.
In the meantime, keep riding and be safe.
If you found this post helpful, share it on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter by clicking the boxes below the article title.