Book Review

Amanda Ottah

                Organized into four parts, this HBO documentary seeks to educate the general public about the growing obesity epidemic in the United States as a mean to promote healthy lifestyle changes. All sections of the documentary follows a similar format where there is mention of statistics, supported by expert testimony, and narratives and additives by everyday citizens.   Part 1 is titled “Consequences”, and like its namesake investigates and expounds upon the health costs of obesity.  It explains that obesity is a modern epidemic that has developed within the last thirty years due to the nature of human biology and the contemporary age where the availability and access to high caloric foods has reached its peak. Consequently, it describes how many Americans have accumulated excess weight that has severely impacted their life and life span. The documentary’s second part, “Choices” explores psychological, biological, and societal aspects to weight gain and excess weight and the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. “Children in Crisis”, The Weight of The Nation’s third segment focuses on the effect of the obesity epidemic on children and their life outcomes. Bringing attention to the poor nutrition available in public middle schools and the marketing campaigns of corporations that encourage the consumption of unhealthy foods, “Children in Crisis” demonstrates the cultural push towards overconsumption and malnutrition. The final part of the documentary - “Challenges”- tackles the depth of reasons (for example the government policies that have adversely affected agriculture and has trickled down into the stark health disparities across racial and socioeconomic lines) that hinder legitimate change

          Striving to impede the rise of obesity and its health related costs, The Weight of the Nation serves as means of informing United States citizens about the realities of obesity and the ways in which it not only impacts the health of the individual, but also the nation as a whole. It additionally destigmatizes obesity through removing the blame from the individual by exploring the ways in which technological advancements (for example how the invention of cars and public transportation resulted in a sharp decrease of daily physical activity), policy (how grants allotted to farms effects what can be grown and their pricing in supermarkets)  and general societal trends (the upsurge of sedentary occupations) have fostered an environment where obesity could flourish. It also elicits empathy and sympathy for those who face such a condition through the exploration of the emotional and psychological aspects to overeating as well as the social repercussions of being an overweight or obese individual.  Conclusively, the film’s goal  is to encourage healthy eating habits and increased physical activity.