Food For Thought: The Weight of the Nation

Have you heard of HBO’s latest documentary series?


The Weight of the Nation is a four-part series tackling the topic of obesity in America. The four films touch on how and why obesity has become such an issue in the country, the impact on future generations, and also speculates how we may go about creating change.

I found it frustrating and hopeful, all at the same time.

Some of the points that I found particularly interesting:

  • Many popular diets emphasize fast, dramatic weight-loss results, but rarely focus on the bigger challenge–> creating lasting lifestyle change that will ensure weight maintenance in the future. As a result, many of us have no idea how to feed ourselves on a consistent basis, without being “on” or “off” a diet.
  • Television shows like “The Biggest Loser” lead us to believe that exercise is the best solution for weight loss. However, both diet and exercise are critically important for lasting results. (And in my personal opinion, a healthy diet is essential!)
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages, including juice drinks, account for more added sugar in children’s daily diets than any other food. Simply limiting or eliminating these beverages is a step in the right direction.
  • Our bodies have adapted to deal with food scarcity over tens of thousands of years, but our biology still hasn’t caught up to the over-abundance of cheap, sugar-laden food facing us today. Unfortunately, that often leads to over-eating processed foods that aren’t even fit for human consumption– simply because we’re built to eat while we can for self-preservation!
  • Though it may seem like a “good deal” to consume inexpensive food now, it could be quite expensive in the long-term–> including future health care costs associated with heart disease, diabetes, and more.

This is a HUGE topic, so I feel like we’re just scratching the surface, but I’m glad the discussion is getting started!

Even if you don’t have HBO, you can watch the films for FREE here!

Reader Feedback: Did you see this documentary? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of obesity, and what steps you’d take to help tackle it! Personally, I’d love to see some policy changes regarding government subsidies, to make organic fruits and veggies more affordable (I know I’m probably dreaming here…), better nutrition education for doctors and patients alike, and I’d love to see further changes in the school gym and lunch programs, since habits are learned at a young age!

10 comments to Food For Thought: The Weight of the Nation

  • I’ve heard a lot of people making noises about this documentary, but haven’t had a chance to see it yet so thanks for posting that link! Like you, I think that making fresh produce more affordable is a really important factor that could help to decrease the prevalence of obesity. But in addition to that, education on how to actually prepare vegetables that people aren’t already familiar with would help. (I’d be willing to bet that many people know they can eat carrots and celery raw, but wouldn’t know what do do with a squash, or wouldn’t think to spiralize zucchini to make a lower-calorie version of pasta.) I’m sure I could go on about all of this for ages. I think this series will be my Friday night activity of choice this evening! :) Have a great day Megan!

  • Thanks for sharing..I haven’t seen the documentary but I would likely feel the same way..frustrated yet hopeful…I think our society is plagued with the idea of a quick fix and they don’t know the real expense…I’m hungry…I need something quick (unhealthy fast-food + sweets), I need to lose weight fast (drastically decrease calories, diet pills, etc). Eek..it’s a vicious cycle!

    • Vicious cycle, indeed! And it sure doesn’t help that magazines and TV shows are featuring the “latest diet information” for us every week– it’s so easy to be influenced and confused!

  • Kellie

    Random question: are you currently taking birth control pills? I follow a very healthy diet and am currently thinking about getting off the pill. I am scared because I dont want to break out and ive heard that the pill protects from certain kinds of cancers. What are your thoughts?

    • Oh, the pill is a tough topic. I don’t take it anymore, but I did for nearly 11 years!

      I don’t feel that it’s my place to be giving advice in this department, especially since I don’t know your specific situation, but I can tell you that I didn’t break out when I got off the pill (and I originally started it because of bad acne), nor do I feel any less protected from getting certain cancers. Personally, if I had to do it again, I would have stopped taking it much earlier than I did.

  • This post is great! I haven’t seen the documentary yet, but really want to. It is so hard to tackle obesity in today’s society without a dietician. I think that’s what people with eating problems need, and therapists too. Sometimes their weight issues come from lack of self-worth and masking that problem won’t help weight loss in the long-term. I do think we need more knowledge on healthy eating because so much is focused on being thin, instead of healthy. Or people don’t understand that eating a salad is not always healthy, especially with the yucky dressing most restaurants provide. Such an interesting topic!

  • Angela

    I’ve watched three out of the four — we’ll watch the last one tonight. I’m so glad you posted on this. The more people who watch it the better. They are fascinating and frustrating, for sure — particularly watching politicians water down any attempts to restrict advertising to children or increase p.e. requirements. My kids are both gf/sf/cf, which I never thought would be an advantage until watching this documentary — we never have to worry about battling over processed foods because they know already they’re “allergic.”

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  • Sara

    I’ve only watched #1 so far (tonight), but this is one major reason why I have changed my family’s food. It is so scary to think that if we aren’t healthier we’re hurting the things we swear to protect (our children).

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