“The Weight of the Nation” HBO Special — A Preview

A grave situation for sure

Image from the HBO documentary

Last week, I blogged about a new HBO documentary that will begin airing on May 14. After mentioning in that blog that I didn’t have HBO, one of my readers (who chooses to remain anonymous) kindly sent me the DVD set complete with a discussion guide.

It arrived yesterday and I greatly appreciate it.  And last night, I watched Part I – Consequences and the beginning of Part II — Choices. The other two parts are Children in Crisis and Challenges.

This blog is my review before watching the entire documentary. Click here to see my final review.

First impression. They did a great job of describing the problem, but as for the solution…not so much. One particular phrase caught my attention as they described the

Waves of obesity leading to waves of diabetes leading to waves of medical problems—the likes of which we have never seen.

Here’s my take so far. While I didn’t expect much useful information in terms of what can be done to fight obesity, I will say that I was very impressed with the overall description of this unprecedented problem—not only in the United States but throughout the Western world. Lots of new information and statistics; one in particular caught my attention:

There was a list of seven factors that would predict ideal cardiovascular health; less than one percent of adult Americans meet all seven (less than 5% meet six of them):

  1. Optimal total cholesterol level
  2. Normal blood pressure
  3. Don’t have diabetes
  4. Lean BMI in the healthy range
  5. Does not smoke
  6. Exercises regularly
  7. Eats a healthy diet

As for the last one, I always have my doubts if the experts even have a clue what a healthy diet means. In the special, on the rare occasion when diet is mentioned, they always start talking about those lean cuts of meat, fish, turkey, etc. and that great health food known as low fat dairy.

Is this what we want for our children’s future?

Lots of pretty scary statistics:

  • One in three children born in the year 2000 in the USA will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime.
  • If that child is African-American or Latino, that number is one in two.
  • Of the ten states with the highest obesity rates, nine of them rank among the nation’s poorest.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was largely undetected in society until recently. Now it’s estimated that as many as 25% of American adults have excess fat in their livers.
  • Autopsy studies reveal that 38% of obese children have excess fat in their livers.
  • 1 in 4 young Americans do not meet the weight requirement to join the armed forces.
  • Autopsy reports for children who died of other causes are showing that heart disease begins very early in childhood.
  • 94% of American schools served lunches that exceeded (not-so-healthy) federal guidelines for fat and saturated fat.

Calories and Exercise. So far in the special, I have not heard a single mention of the importance of eating the truly health-promoting foods. All of the emphasis seems to be on counting calories and exercising more. Yet they also point out that diets to lose weight (restricting calories) almost never work and note that the diet industry would be out of business if they did work. I also have not heard my favorite assessment of the primary driver of this grave situation:

We’re eating the wrong food!!!

Today’s “system” is all about money, power, ego and control—according to Dr. T. Colin Campbell.

Will this HBO special help? It certainly can’t hurt; the more we’re aware of this incredible problem, the better. And maybe that increased knowledge will lead to a gradual overhaul of our totally dysfunctional system of food-medicine-pharma-government-academia-media. Eventually, our system of the future must include:

  • Schools of nutrition that do not accept money from food suppliers.
  • Medical schools that are not controlled by the pharmaceutical industry.
  • A medical system that has a financial incentive for us to be healthy.
  • Dietary guidelines designed by an organization with an incentive to promote health vs. an incentive to maximize profits of food suppliers.
The Bottom Line. Until the above conditions are met, things are not likely got get much better anytime soon. Without meeting those conditions, our best chance to fix our toxic, wasteful, harmful, cruel and unsustainable Western diet is for the price of energy to go high enough that hardly anyone can afford it. Then, we’d return to the days of the yore when only the wealthy were stricken with those dreaded “diseases of affluence.”

90-second trailer of the HBO Special

Last week’s blog that mentioned the HBO special. Do you have a “family history” of heavy or obese people?

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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2 Responses to “The Weight of the Nation” HBO Special — A Preview

  1. joeboss says:

    Great Article!

    It is certainly a real shame that these TV documentaries rarely can come clean and admit that “We’re eating the wrong food”. There is just so much pressure by big food and pharma to allow the truth to be told.

    Love the list of 7 factors for ideal cardiovascular health. #4 “Lean” BMI is still my big challenge.

    I believe, however, that the BMI measurement is archaic and prone to error. It should be only be used in concert (or just outright replaced) with the very simple waist to height ratio measurement WHtR (0.5 max for age 60 and under). The gold standard, of course, is a Body Fat % assessment (15% max for men, 22% max for women).

  2. Leo S. says:

    The following link should give you five videos about foods, how they are raised and how they can affect our health. Go to the 17:30 mark in “Udderly Amazing” for a discussion on Type-1 Diabetes and its possible cause. That video should give you a better understanding of dairy products and encourage you to see the other four lectures. We must learn to consume more whole foods and fewer manufactured or altered food products.


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