Have you seen the HBO’s four-part series “Weight of the Nation”? Personally, I hadn’t planned on watching it. We all know there’s a national epidemic of obesity. Hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup and fast food are among the many problems. So, why would I need to watch a documentary to tell me that?
And, recently, at the BlogHer Food Conference in Seattle, I was shocked at how many of the speakers and attendees had not seen the film either. We listened to a speaker discuss national trends related to the lack of quality food for low-income children. Someone in the audience raised her hand and directly asked him if he had seen Weight of the Nation and what he thought of the film. He answered that he had not. I’m not suggesting our speaker was any less informed or that his presentation was uninteresting; I was just surprised that he was one of the many people who hadn’t taken the time to hear why HBO thought this film needed to be done, and what new perspective they could weigh in on the topic.
Well, I did watch Weight of the Nation. Not intentionally. It just happened to be on one day when I flipped on the television, and I was hooked in the first few minutes. HBO presents many new perspectives that I hadn’t really considered about our obesity epidemic. Of course DNA is a primary factor in how much we weigh; but where we live also determines how we eat and play.
“We are a genetic makeup of the environment we happen to be living in.” My heart ached for a mother living in a low-income area of Santa Ana who waits until after work hours when local business parking lots are empty to take her kids out to play there. With no local parks, there’s no place nearby for her children to play. I look up as I write and see our green grassy backyard, or think back to yesterday when we had a picnic dinner at a park not more than a mile from our home, and realize how fortunate we are. We don’t do a lot of video games in our home, so they’re primary form of play is outside where they can get plenty of physical exercise.
In higher-poverty areas one out of every three children is obese. The lack of food options is a major factor with many children getting their daily meals from local convenience stores. One boy mentioned that he didn’t know what broccoli looked like.
The bottom line is that there are so many issues that lead to obesity in addition to genetics and environment. In the film we hear from “emotional eaters” who use food as a comfort and escape; or “mindful eaters” who have lost weight through training where they learn to be mindful when eating.
I can sit back and think that the “weight of the nation” doesn’t affect me so long as I keep my children and myself healthy, but that’s complicatedly not true. In the documentary “Finding Superman” (another must-see movie), it was delicately suggested that our entire nation’s eminent demise falls on the backs of our teachers unions. And in HBO’s “Weight of the Nation” I can clearly see the same type of connection. Obesity leads to chronic heart disease and diabetes among other health issues. With almost a third of our nation ill, one can only imagine the burden that places on our healthcare system and taxes our Medicare and Medicaid assistance programs.
So, what can we as individuals do to help the epidemic? If you were hoping I had the answers, I do apologize. The first thing I suggest is that every American watch the HBO documentary “Weight of the Nation”; and there’s no need to go renting it, because HBO has posted it via YouTube (below).
Eating home cooked meals is something I’ve always felt strongly is a good place to start when it comes to creating a healthy food environment for our children. By planting gardens and teaching our children where food comes from, reading food labels and eating at home we’re setting a really good foundation for a healthy future.
Preparing home cooked meals is not always easy, especially for working parents with busy schedules. The Organized Cook would like to start by helping to make it easier with a free Weekly Meal Plan including menu, grocery shopping list, recipes and cooking instructions to help the task of planning and preparing healthy family dinners easier. To get your free meal plan, click here.