It’s a well known fact that we have a serious obesity epidemic on our hands in the U.S., with now more than 70 million adults and 12 million children and adolescents considered obese. But a new, multi-pronged initiative launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called The Weight of the Nation, wants to do something about it.
The movement, which is not only being carried out through its own website, book and medical conference, will now seek to reach Americans through their TV screens. A new HBO series called “The Weight of the Nation: Confronting America’s Obesity Epidemic,” will air in four, separate segments starting May 14. It’s a public health announcement of sorts, warning America of the dangers of its future as an obese nation, and what we must do in order to stop it from happening.
Their motto states “To win, we have to lose,” and they’re working to put a plan in place to slow the rise in the number of Americans suffering chronic, debilitating and deadly diseases tied to weight.
Last week at the Weight of the Nation conference in Washington, D.C., the Institute of Medicine presented a report that made the following health recommendations for individuals, schools, government, and industry.
- Include physical activity in daily life.
- Ensure everyone has access to healthy food and rink choices in all settings.
- Change the message and the marketing about the importance of nutrition.
- Make schools a gateway to healthy weight.
- Motivate employers, doctors and other health care professionals to get on board and champion healthy lifestyles.
Committee chair Dan Glickman – executive director of congressional programs at Aspen Institute in D.C. – said, “As trends show, people have a very tough time achieving healthy weights when inactive lifestyles are the norm and inexpensive, high-calorie foods and drinks are readily available 24 hours a day. Individuals and groups can’t solve this complex problem alone, and that’s why we recommend changes that can work together at the societal level and reinforce one another’s impact to speed our progress.”
At the conference, the committee reviewed nearly 800 obesity prevention recommendations, and selected a group of standouts as the most effective options. Some of these selections include requiring schools to provide 60 minutes of physical education or activity per day; implementing industry-wide guidelines on the food and drinks marketed to children; expanding on-the-job wellness programs; and getting restaurants to provide lower-calorie, healthier kid meals.
To enforce these programs, the organization has asked the government to step in by mandating the changes if the industry has not adopted suitable standards within two years of being implemented. And has also asked the media to help by forging a marketing campaign to educate viewers about healthy living, as well as the health risks our nation faces if we don’t change the direction we’re headed.
A big extension of these efforts is the HBO series, which will include an in-depth look at the epidemic through various case studies, interviews with families who are struggling with obesity, and input from leading national experts. Learn more about the series and find other health-related resources at theweightofthenation.hbo.com.