J Morris Hicks

J Morris Hicks

Posted May 15, 2012

Published in Health

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HBO 'Obesity Special' simply adds to the confusion.

Read More: HBO Obesity documentary, reversing obesity, Weight of the Nation

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Good description of the problem. The solution? Not so much

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 (See link below)

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, 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.

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 

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

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