By Amanda Hill

As I was driving last night, I heard a radio interview about a HBO documentary series called “The Weight of the Nation.” It’s a four-part series, based on a report by the Institute of Medicine, aimed at tackling America’s obesity epidemic.

Obesity and weight gain have become heavy issues. According to the documentary, two-thirds of all Americans are overweight or obese. One third of our children struggle with childhood obesity. Larger portion sizes, coupled with a more sedentary lifestyle, has culminated in a serious issue for our nation.

It’s easy to push this off as a personal problem, one that each individual needs to deal with on their own. And yet, “The Weight of the Nation” argues that obesity is a much bigger, societal issue. It increases the occurrence of heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and cancer. Every organ is said to be affected by excess weight. In turn, obesity and related diseases contribute nearly $150 billion a year in health care costs—half of which is paid through Medicare and Medicaid.

No matter what the scale says, obesity affects us all.

“The Weight of the Nation” examines our struggle with obesity from four angles:

  • Part 1: “Consequences”—How does extra weight affect the body’s organs, and what are the long-term health implications?
  • Part 2: “Choices”—What benefit would weight loss, even just a 5-10 percent loss, have on overweight patients?
  • Part 3: “Children in Crisis”—Do children have a fighting chance against pervasive marketing messages, a lack of healthy food options and more video games than soccer games?
  • Part 4: “Challenges”—Given the reality of obesity in America, how can we make our communities healthier?

I’ll admit, I’ve only seen the first part of the documentary, but I plan to watch all four episodes. (It’s available for free on the HBO website.) America’s obesity epidemic took decades to create, and it will take time to reverse. There are several contributing factors, and we all must make a conscious effort to turn it around.

I’m interested to know… Has anyone else has watched the documentaries? What do you think? Did HBO hit the mark or is it off target?