HBO Obesity Special—“NOTHING NEW” says L.A. Times

And that was pretty much the consensus.

Image from the HBO documentary

Did you watch the first few hours of the HBO Obesity special last night? If so, I would like to hear what you thought about it so far. Don’t have HBO? No problem, you can watch it for free online:

Watch all of the special online for free

Last week, I wrote my own review of the HBO Special, “The Weight of the Nation.” And I concluded the same thing as some of the mainstream media folks—but for different reasons. Here’s what I wrote: While watching the HBO documentary this week on DVD, I became curious about a few things:

  1. Why do they concentrate on exercise over diet on a ratio of about ten to one?
  2. When they do talk about diet, why do they never talk about the power of whole, plant-based foods to reverse chronic disease and obesity?
  3. Why do they always include the phrases “lean cuts of meat” and “low-fat dairy” when describing a healthy diet?
  4. Why did they choose an obviously obese man as one of their primary messengers?

I suspect that all of the answers to the above questions has something to do with money. And that’s not going to change until our overall “system” changes.

In my review (See link below), I concluded that the reason we heard nothing new is because the people who produced the documentary don’t have any “new” knowledge.

They probably haven’t read The China Study and they are in the dark when it comes to the power of whole foods, plant-based nutrition to promote health, reverse chronic disease and, yes, curb our out-of-control obesity epidemic. Our basic problem is twofold:

  1. We’re eating the wrong food.
  2. 95% of our best and brightest (including the media) are not aware of that simple fact. They still truly believe that we need all those “lean meats and low-fat dairy” products.

Mary McNamara of the L.A. Times writes:

If  you were hoping that the good people at HBO had come up with a solution that will whittle the national waistline in 20 days or less you will be disappointed. “The Weight of the Nation” mostly tells us what we already know. Sodas, juice, sugary breakfast cereals, fast food and most processed snack foods are bad for us, their proliferation corresponding historically with the national weight gain. Fresh food costs more than junk food, which puts the poor more at risk. Children are surrounded by the siren call of unhealthful food, fad diets don’t work and real change takes time.

The value of the series, then, is its, well, weight, its relentless attempt to remind us of what we know, to connect many important dots and clear away the emotional and cultural fog that often blurs discussions about obesity, and to offer hope in the form of personal stories, regional projects and past success.

Smoking was once ubiquitous, corporations squawked about cleaning up the air and water, people fussed about wearing seat belts, but when confronted with enough incontrovertible evidence, eventually, we choose life over convenience.

Ms. McNamara is absolutely right; the HBO Special is telling us what we already know. But why didn’t they tell us what most of us DON’T already know? That we’re eating the wrong food in this country. Unfortunately, that “most of us” includes the producers and the main “cast members” in this special.

Mark Perigard of the Boston Herald writes:

“The Weight of the Nation,” a well-intentioned documentary miniseries three years in the making—that just might send you stress–eating right out of the refrigerator. The statistics — and they are chucked relentlessly at you over the course of five hours in two nights — are soul-sapping.

In its personal vignettes, “Weight” illuminates, but too often the segments are a numbing array of statistics from well-meaning talking heads. One expert cuts through the chatter and demands a concerted effort from government, corporations and the public.

“Obesity will crush the United States, and we will fade in the rearview mirror of oblivion,” she says. “We could have done something different. We should have done something different, and we lacked the moral fiber and the love for our children to do the right thing.”

If we don’t get moving, we’ll be forever known as the Land of the Lard.

J. Morris (Jim) Hicks

The Bottom Line. The media-reviewers featured here make two very good points:

  1. There is nothing new in this documentary.
  2. There were too many “talking heads” with no plan of action. (One of the primary talking heads was morbidly obese, a fact that none of the media seemed to notice.)

Until we “dispel the protein myth,” and everyone understands that we don’t need—and should not be eating—animal protein, nothing much is going to change with our mega-system that controls what most of us eat. I say “most of us” because everyone is free to choose what they want to eat, but the vast majority are not going to figure it out on their own. This is the tragedy of this whole situation.

For your convenience, here are links to the three reviews mentioned in this blog—along with a link to my “Dispelling the Protein Myth” article.

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

International. We’re now reaching people in over 100 countries. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or get daily blog notices by “following” us in the top of the right-hand column. For occasional updates, join our periodic mailing list.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

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 Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

SHARE and rate this post below.

Blogging daily at…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.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to HBO Obesity Special—“NOTHING NEW” says L.A. Times

  1. Robert Thatcher says:

    Thanks for your review of the HBO documentary. I had a few observations :
    – It has a long segment devoted to dangerous, costly bypass surgery. The judge obviously had bad side effects.
    – The doctor doing the heart study in Mississippi gets on the obese policeman saying “you need to take some medicine.” Is there no other solution.
    – The two women friends with weight loss success were weighing everything with scales and counting calories. There’s really a lie out there about portions. On the plant-based diet, I eat like a field hound (albeit a vegan one) and stay at my natural weight. We’re meant to have joy in food, not what they are going through. They seemed to carefully watching every bite, over-exercising.

  2. Jim: My quick comments on HBO’s “The Weight of the Nation” 4 parts movie!

    I watched, on-line on my computer, all four of the 68-minutes-each movies and captured them all on my video camera.

    Way too long — 4.5 hours total — for most viewers to slog through!! Could have consolidated into an ~ hour show. The long viewing of the many parts to the show gives me a feeling of hopelessness that much improvement can be achieved.

    You commented that not much was presented on the simple solution of going “plant-strong, whole foods.” Here is the link to the 30-minute “Bonus Short” where getting local farmers to provide much more of veggies and fruits was emphasized. You might pass that on to your readers.

    HBO: The Weight of the Nation: Films: Bonus Short: Healthy Foods and Obesity Prevention: Increasing Markets for Fruit and Vegetable Farmers

    • Leo S. says:

      Thanks for that link. At least some people are making the effort. It’s good to see some progress is being made and there are people all across the nation who share our hopes for a better food supply and a more informed public.

  3. Joe McMahon says:

    Thank you for your steadfast interest in nutrition… it is an uphill battle…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s