The media can’t get enough of the obesity epidemic and the chance to show humiliating sidewalk footage of Americans from the necks down and the knees up. It’s so ubiquitous it can be easy to tune out and change the channel, but a new documentary on HBO, The Weight of the Nation, goes beyond the typical scare tactics of late night news reports and actually delivers a thoughtful examination of the problem, including some mention of how the design of our cities perpetuates obesity. HBO partnered with the Institute of Medicine, in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, to look at the obesity problem from a number of angles, including evolution and biology, advertising and the food industry, economics and government policy, and car dependence and neighborhood design. A particularly heartbreaking segment focuses on a poor neighborhood in Sacramento, California, where the mothers take their children to an empty parking lot to play because there are no parks within walking distance. If you don’t have HBO, the films (there are four parts to the documentary) are available online here.
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