The Weight of the Nation — a four-part mini-series that ran this week on HBO (and online) — has received a lot of attention. Produced in coordination with several federal government agencies and paired with a major national conference, the show has been heralded as “groundbreaking” and “bold.” But it’s really just the same old story.Commentary:
It’s time we get some issues out in the open. This author has some complaints about the “Weight of the Nation” series, and I do too. We needn’t however, as my mother used to say, throw the baby out with the bathwater. The obesity epidemic has, until now, been the elephant in the room, which we all talked about and feared. Only now are we, in the millions, saying, “Well what are we going to do about it?”
This film series, as well as similar documentaries from every single TV Network have dropped this in our laps and we are now responding. They’ve painted a picture that many of us disagree with in some ways, but at least the dialogue has begun in earnest.
One issue which we need to think about, as brought out in this article, is the stigma associated with obesity. People who are obese are subjected to prejudice and many difficulties that are totally unfair. On top of that, the “calories in vs. calories out” concept of weight control mistakenly fostered by the government for decades also implies that they lack self-control and are lazy – which is bogus and unfair. So… to add insult to injury we parade all these photos and videos of obese people in films like the Weight of the Nation, to drive home even more negative imagery. We need to find a way to tone down this visual and rhetorical focus on obesity. We all know that people of all weights (normal, overweight, and obese) suffer the health consequences of carbohydrate metabolism, so why just focus on the obese. Obesity, after all, is just one of the side effects of carbohydrate metabolism. We need a new way to discuss this without the typical imagery of an overweight person (usually eating something). I”m not sure what the answer is, but I’m trying to find it.
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