No, I didn't go see 'Dark Shadows'. Maybe I'll have a free weekend before it leaves the theaters.
In the meantime, I've been working my way through HBO's new documentary, 'Weight of the Nation', which examines America's obesity epidemic. You don't need to subscribe to HBO to see it, you can watch it for free with no commercials here. It's in 4 parts and for me the most horrifying was Part 3 which addresses childhood obesity and parts of Part 1 which also had segments on kids. I can't stand when politicians and special interest groups use kids to manipulate but it was hard for me to watch the school nurse doing health checks of the students and crying over the obesity and high blood pressure present in over 50% of the kids at her middle school in Louisiana. 12 years old with high blood pressure. Lots of them.
There are lots of unnerving statistics in this documentary, so many your head can't even begin to hold them all. I found the following to be particularly disturbing:
Ideal factors of cardiovascular health:
1. Optimal levels of total cholesterol
2. Normal blood pressure
3. Not having diabetes
4. Having a lean body mass index (ie not obese or overweight)
5. Not being a smoker
6. Participating in recommended physical activity
7. Healthy diet
Less than 1% of Americans meet this criteria. Less than 1%.
It costs $1400 more per year to care for an obese person than to care for someone who's not obese. Someone with diabetes costs $6600 more per year to care for. Collectively obesity costs $150 billion per year. About half of these costs are paid for by public funds, ie medicare and medicaid.
18% of children are obese. 2/3 of adults are either obese or overweight. Or put another way only 1/3 of adults are at a healthy weight.
It seems to me that we're already well beyond a reasonable tipping point and yet all indications point to things getting exponentially worse.
The documentary examines all aspects of the problem including farm subsidies for corn and soy and lack of government (Republicans) intervention with respect to predatory marketing to children due to power of the corporations and gives a surprising voice to small/family farmers groups. They could have gone deeper into these issues (if there is a corporation more evil than Monsanto walking the planet I surely don't know what it is) but at least they were addressed, surprising considering it was HBO doing the series. I have to give them props for doing it and allowing people to view for free. They're also allowing/encouraging educational institutions to show it for free.
The show wasn't all doom and gloom and there were some examples of people taking control of things on a local and personal level but overall I was not getting a huge sense of hope. My initial interest in the show was to help me get more insight into my weight loss clients. I watch all kinds of shows and read all kinds of books related to diet and weight loss so that I can better help my clients. But this show was beyond disturbing and I'm not really a 'sky is falling' sort of person. But living in Boulder I've clearly been shielded from the severity of what's going on outside the 'bubble', especially when it comes to kids. There's an elementary school that I walk past all the time and the majority of kids seem to be a healthy weight but clearly this is the exception and not the rule. Food is one thing that kids truly have little to no control over, they depend on the adults in their life to provide them with healthy food and to teach them how to make healthy choices. These kids are going to struggle physically and emotionally their whole lives because of the failings of the adults in their lives be it parents, schools, government/corporations.
I could on about this for a lot longer but I won't. I don't like to be a food/lifestyle nag. I've always figured people make their choices and it's up to them to deal with the consequences. If people come to me for help as a client or even a friend that's another matter but I don't judge people about their lifestyle choices or try to intervene. But wow, things are really getting out of hand and I'm thinking it's time for somebody somewhere to start shouting about it or that Wall-e movie is going to be a reality sooner than we realize. I think Robert Lustig and Jamie Oliver are my new heroes.