"The Weight Of The Nation": Documenting America's Obesity Epidemic: Part 1 - Consequences

Tyler Durden's picture

68.8% of Americans are overweight or obese: this stunning fact, setting aside the unsustainability of US fiscal or monetary policy, means that something must change in this country, or very soon it won't matter if America has $20 trillion or $1 googol in debt: everyone will be simply too fat to care. And, shortly thereafter, too dead. Now that America's obesity epidemic is rapidly, and finally, becoming a front and center topic of conversation, and one which can not be excluded from any rational healthcare policy discussion, increasingly more media has started to narrow in, pardon the pun, on the causes, consequences, choices and challenges involved in recognizing that America does in fact have an obesity problem, and that the sooner proactive steps are taken, the better for everyone. As Charles Hugh Smith pointed out recently, sickcare represents a(n at least) 8% hidden VAT tax to all Americans, of which obesity is the primary cause for outflows: this number will only grow, until it too becomes merely one more unsustainable line item in America's increasingly improbable income statement. Starting tonight, HBO is releasing a 4 part documentary titled "The Weight of the Nation - confronting America's obesity epidemic" to bring more attention to a systemic threat which if left unchecked will, by 2020, impact 75% of America's population. We present the first movie in the series below, and will bring the remaining three parts shortly.


From HBO:

The first film in 'The Weight of the Nation' series examines the scope of the obesity epidemic and explores the serious health consequences of being overweight or obese.


The first character we meet is Cindy. Born and raised in Bogalusa, Louisiana, Cindy is the mother of two grown sons and now a proud grandmother. Cindy allowed HBO into her home and life to discuss some very painful things. Only 99 pounds when she got married, Cindy has struggled with her weight ever since her first pregnancy. And it's only gotten harder.


Health and behaviors in early childhood can have serious consequences later on in life. The Bogalusa Heart Study - of which Cindy was a participant - shows that overweight and obese children have risk factors for heart disease, even at a young age.


The obesity epidemic is a problem that's emerged over the last 30 years. It threatens our nation's social, economic and physical health. But, unlike a natural disaster, obesity is often preventable. Although overall obesity prevalence rates appear to be leveling off, there are still far too many Americans who are overweight or obese and who continue to develop health problems as a result. In order to end the epidemic, everyone must be part of the solution.


At the level of our DNA, we're programmed to eat as much as we can to survive and store the extra as fat for future energy use. In a world where calorie-dense, sugar-laden and fatty foods are available around every corner, that's a problem. The good news is that, even if the propensity to gain weight is written into our genes, we're not fated to a lifetime of fat.


As we take a look at communities across the country - from New York City to Santa Ana, California - it is clear that we have all been getting heavier. But the problem doesn't affect all communities equally. The sad fact is that obesity rates are higher in some ethnic communities and in lower-income states. The trends are so extreme that they are attracting the attention of health officials and lawmakers.


Obesity among children is also rising, and it's a real threat that may have lasting health consequences. As Anna Busby says, based on her observations as the nurse of the Bogalusa Middle School Health Clinic, overweight and obese children are at risk of being "on dialysis in their thirties if we don't do something now." The good news is that we can make a difference in our children's lives both now and as they get older by helping them adopt healthy eating behaviors and become more active.


There's a powerful connection between being overweight or obese and having heart disease as an adult. The heart, our hardest-working muscle, spends every second of every day vigorously pumping blood to the farthest reaches of our bodies. The larger we become, the harder our hearts have to work to keep blood circulating. The bottom line: being overweight or obese places you at a higher risk of developing heart disease and suffering a stroke as an adult.


Beyond the cardiovascular system, excess weight has negative consequences throughout the body. "Almost every organ system in the body is adversely affected by having excess body fat," says Dr. Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.


Even a small amount of excess weight, accumulated slowly at the rate of a few pounds a year over many years, can lead to type 2 diabetes. Being over 45 years of age, having a family history of diabetes, being physically inactive and being overweight or obese can increase a person's chances of developing type 2 diabetes. If poorly controlled or left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to a number of serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, amputation and even death.


Obesity is not only one of the top public health issues facing our country; it's also a threat to our nation's bottom line. Rising obesity rates threaten to drag our economy down through higher health care costs and lower productivity. Currently, 69% of American adults are overweight or obese.

Full documentary:

h/t stock_bitch

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Ident 7777 economy's picture



"Documenting America's Obesity Epidemic"


Any coincidental connection to the efforts to cut down/reduce smoking and legalize pot?


Naaaaaah .....

NemoDeNovo's picture

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a McBurger today.......

Dixie Rect's picture

" I'm just big boned"


Me too, from the waist down.

connda's picture

Speak for yourself.  I'd simply say that the majority of Americans are fat fucks. 

But instead of going down the road of more and more legislation I have a simplier solution: If you really care about your health and well-being, leave the U.S. and move to an affordable country with a reasonable cost-of-living.

And learn to live with less. 

I walk my talk and I'm happier for it.

Omen IV's picture

"they"........ are a nation of fat fucks!

I think I need to buy a gun's picture

its the ultimate welfare state that can be created,,,,nobody fuckin works everyone just get cheap shit, sits around to mind numbing tv and eats kfc

Bob's picture

Our kids don't play outside anymore.  We don't notice because we're updating our status or watching hd sports.  They'll text us if they need something, right?  We just got them two new games. 

They know how to order pizza and run the microwave, don't they?

Got Angry Birds?

Steve Jobs, 4EVAH.

DanDaley's picture

Mother nature doesn't like fatsoes.

kekekekekekeke's picture

true, kids have gotten even fatter and lazier post- iPhone and they weren't in that great shape when I graduated a decade or so ago

TBT or not TBT's picture

Excercise has been shown in study after study to be unhelpful for weight loss.   Only cutting carbohydrates in the diet works, and is sustainable, in study after study, for over a hundred years of research on the topic of weight loss.   And yet we still have this mantra, like a faith, extolling exercise and execrating sloth.   The great majority of people who are too fat get fat because they eat too many carbs, full stop.   Excercise has nothing to do with it.   You excercise more, your appetite increases.   You excercise less, your appetite decreases, particularly if you aren't eating a lot of carbs.  Carbs make you hungry again quickly.    They are addictive and distructive.

WonderDawg's picture

Your post is mostly bullshit. You don't have to be a genius to figure out the math. Calorie intake vs. calorie burn. I'll eat my meat and potatoes and burn up the calories at the gym, tennis court, bicycle, and lake. I'm almost fifty years old and have about 10% body fat. And while part of it is genetics, the majority of it is the fact that I get out and do shit to keep my body fit. I'm as strong as I was when I was 30, and just as lean.

HamyWanger's picture

"And while part of it is genetics, the majority of it is the fact that I get out and do shit to keep my body fit"

And how exactly did you determine the genetic/environment proportion? With a crystal ball?

hedgeless_horseman's picture



And how exactly did you determine the genetic/environment proportion? With a crystal ball?

Experience and observation is my guess.

WonderDawg's picture

Exactly, h_h. Experience and observation are highly underrated these days. Kinda like common sense.

Spastica Rex's picture

The plural of anecdote is not data; sorry.

Me, I've lost 40 lbs. Anecdotally.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Is the answer: "Because...thermodynamics!" a common sense argument ?


Wait for it......    Why would anyone expect that calorie input and calorie burning are entirely independent variables?    They're not!

On calorie-restricted diets, surprise, surprise surprise: people's metabolism slows down, and they become lethargic, nevermind irritiable, in study after study.   

When people are made to burn more calories through excercise, they eat more calories, if allowed to, and do not gain weight.

Now applying thermodynamics:   In studies where people are restricted in calories inputs and yet made to burn more calories  through excercise, they lose weight, BUT THEY GAIN IT BACK FAST once the study is over, eating like there is no tomorrow initially, gorging themselves, and generally end up fatter than before.   

The thermodynamics!!! argument is NOT USEFUL to the problem.

This may not be "common sense" but this is what happens in study after study after study.    Sorry to burst bubbles folks.



HamyWanger's picture

The problem with experience and observation is that it is often highly subjective, and can be misled by confirmation bias.

I don't deny personal empiricism can be close to the truth, more than mediocre peer-reviewed studies, but very few persons in the world are capable of totally objective thought (perhaps 5%), which makes any claim on the Internet de facto suspicious. 

TBT or not TBT's picture

Which is to say, with comprehensive bias, favoring one's prejudices.   

Scientific studies show that excercise does not change body fat composition in study participants.    Over and over again.

Excercise, it turns out, increases appetite, causing people to eat more, which compensates for the very few extra calories typically burned through excercise.

WonderDawg's picture

I'll take my anecdotal experience over your scientific studies any day. There are so many health benefits to be derived from exercise that your point is beyond ridiculous. Not to say you can't lose weight by reducing carbs (calories), common sense in diet is recommended regardless of exercise, but I'd rather be a couple of pounds overweight but be in good shape than be some skinny little runt that the doctors in some study regard as being the proper weight.

Want to arm wrestle, Nancy-boy? Hahaha, just kidding, but damn, your argument is kind of off the wall stupid.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



I have never seen a skinny person drinking a diet soft drink.

Max Hunter's picture

Wonderdog, you can't argue with people like that..  They don't even deserve a response from people that actually live the part like we do...

Hulk's picture

We expend a lot of calories, here on the farm, chasing and catching the chickens for dinner,

We spend even  more energy  choking the chicken...

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Killing cones, sharp knife, and a bucket of sawdust.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Ah yes, thermodynamic identity argument.   It is a tautology, what you are saying, and anecdotal on top of that, not a study with control and experimental groups, etc.

Re your particular diet, the ratio of meat to potatoes matters hugely, and you didn't mention the rest of your food intake.   Drink any sugary soda at all?   Eat lots of chips?   Bread?    Eat bowls of table grapes every night?     Probably not.

cbxer55's picture

I exercise daily, and eat whatever the f--- I want. At 50 I am 6'2" and weigh 168 pounds.

Exercise does in fact control obesity. The right kind of exercise. Not moving your thumbs on your "smart" phone, not wanking. No pain-no gain exercise keeps the weight off and keeps you looking tops.

Ag Star's picture

you are dead wrong.  I'm 52 and there was 1 obese person in my highschool.  We ate plenty of carbs and fat. As kids we had PE in school,   walked to school, did chores at home, played outside by skating, biking, tag, hula-hoop, dancing, hop scotch, ball games, swimming.  exercise maintains muscle mass which burns calories and does not store fat.

restricting carbs will keep you thin but you won't be healthy without adequate exercise to maintain muscle tone,  balance, bone density, and immune system--that's the fact.  All fruit has carbs--and most have fiber, should we stop eating fruit--don't think so.


Ag Star's picture

Forgot to mention that exercise--when you do it right release the same endorphins as sexual orgasim.  Restricting carbs never did that!!

Xkwisetly Paneful's picture

Wrong again.

It is just simply amazing how people attach themselves to the stupidest shit on planet earth and never let go.

From the first word to the last word, wrong.

A calorie is a calorie, doesn't matter if it is protein, fat or carb-not even a teeny, weeny little bit and more expended than taken in results in weight loss. One could live on exclusively twinkies and lose weight provided calories taken in are less than calories expended.

Period, no debate, been proven over and over and over and over again.

Now post some more tripe from the ludicrous world of nutritionists and dieticians and so forth.

Pinky's picture

I've been ignoring you, but you're posting this BS so often I have to interject, before some poor sot actually believes it and consigns himself/herself to a life of obesity at 1200 calories per day.  You are behind the times, sorry!  Actually I'm not sorry: These new findings are an immense relief to people who diet consistently and still get fat.

4 Myths About Calories



Myth 1: A calorie is a calorie is a calorie


In the past few years, we've learned a lot more about how our bodies react to identical calorie levels from different foods, and a new Harvard study is further proof.


Another recent study found that saturated fats, like those found in butter, whole milk, and fatty meats, may override the body's natural satiety mechanism (which enables you to feel full), whereas unsaturated fats, from plant sources like olive oil, avocado, and nuts, may enhance satiety, even when the calorie levels don't differ.


A key study from Wake Forest University found that, even at the exact same calorie and fat levels, monkeys fed trans-fats gained four times more weight and 30 percent more belly fat compared to those given meals made with natural, plant-based fats.


And a recent Penn State study found that, over a 12-week period, dieters who consumed whole grains rather than refined grains lost more belly fat, despite the diets otherwise being identical.


All of this means that quality may be more important than quantity when it comes to the fate of the calories you consume.



dolly madison's picture

My kids aren't fat, and they are internet addicts like me, but we only eat home made food.

TomGa's picture

So, Obamacare is going to have a BMI limit?  That's where this is heading.  Obesity - the new vice, huh? 


"In order to end the epidemic, everyone must be part of the solution."  

Yeah, it probably takes a village, too.  Pass the damn fried chicken, will 'ya.

Joe The Plumber's picture

So there should be no limits on care?

Ident 7777 economy's picture





" So, Obamacare is going to have a BMI limit? That's where this is heading. Obesity - the new vice, huh? "


 Any specific regs regarding HUGE-cabooses (rear-ends) and stick arms?


(Buh-bye Michelle O.)





kekekekekekeke's picture

I think they'll gradually narrow the window so that only low-density blobs of fat will pass through, no one wants a muscled up populace

Tapeworm's picture


The votes that obama panders to are the obese.

Joe The Plumber's picture

Insurance usually wont pay for weight loss but the three hundred pound lady gets a fancy new scooter, twenty medicines for her heart diabetes blood pressure and chronic pain, and two or three hospitalizations a year

Joe The Plumber's picture

And they are too big to wipe their own asses or cut their own toenails so home health asswipers and even podiatrists get their piece of the pie

a growing concern's picture

Having worked in health insurance, I can tell you that just isn't true.  Fatties get gastric bypass and lap-band surgeries paid for by health insurance all the time.  They do have to go through several other types of therapy (nutrition counseling, exercise therapy, etc.) and show that those aren't producing the desired results before getting the surgery paid for, but those surgeries are absolutely paid for on a regular basis, at around $20,000 a pop for commercial insurers.

dolly madison's picture

I could see the powers that be supportive of gastric bypass.  It makes the people thinner, but still so weak from vitamin deficiency to still be a tame populace.

YesWeKahn's picture

United states of fat people.

BlueCollaredOne's picture

While I do agree Amerika is a bunch of fatasses, the way to determine if you are indeed overweight is broken. I'm 6'2, 220 lbs. and based off a lot of charts I am obese.

I lift weights 4 times a week, and try to do some sort of aerobic exercise the other 3 days. Muscle weighs more than fat when comparing equal volumes of each

Obesity should be measured by fat percentage, not weight/height ratios.

transaccountin's picture

Dude this is all good and true. But your situation applies to maybe 5 out of 100.

Tuari's picture

I'd say it's much higher than 5 out of 100. I know a lot of other people in the same situation as the above and mine.

a growing concern's picture

You know people who are similar to you and that colors your viewpoint.  You might not know all the Fatty McFattersons who live in the low-income neighborhoods across town.  For every musclebound gym rat out there, I can assure you there's two dozen Krispy-Kreme-stuffing lard-asses who can't even get up off the couch.