"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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in4mayshun's picture

People who like to complain about generalized height/weight ratios usually are fatter than they'd like to admit. It's very easy to hide 20-30 lbs when you're 6'2".

bnbdnb's picture

I think the argument is that BMI screws people who are in shape, assuming suddenly BMI becomes a relevant taxable number.

fonzannoon's picture

I am 5'9 175lbs. I was 195lbs 3 months ago. I lost the weight by changing my diet. At 195lbs I had no health issues. At 175lbs I still have none. I look better probably but I sit behind a fkin desk 6 days a week and spend my nights researching what stocks I can lose money on next. If I had to run 50 feet I could make it about 30 feet at 195lbs and maybe 40 feet at 175lbs.

TuesdayBen's picture

Keep it up, man - no going back. The diet change has to be forever.

BlueCollaredOne's picture

Congrats on the weight loss man. 20lbs through diet alone are great results

Jena's picture

Definitely.  But it'll be a lot easier to keep off if you're able to get moving more.

TBT or not TBT's picture

He needs only to keep restricting carbohydrates.   If he excercises more, that will increase his appetite accordingly, nullifying the extra calorie burning, as seen in thousands of studies since the beginning of obsesity research.   Excercise actually doesn't work.

in4mayshun's picture

Yes you buffoon, exercise does not work...which is why Michael Phelps consumes 10,000 calories a day when he is training.

Rubbish's picture

I'm morbidly obese at 5' 11" 325 lbs., work a physical job, drug free, 57 age, blood work of a teen, bp 133/87, waddled a 5k in 39 minutes two years ago and beat slim mofo's 1/2 my age. Had my heart checked out and its fine, slightly enlarged but no blockages under stress, via intravenous scans. I don't drink but smoked 40 years 2 packs a day.


Fuck em, while I go get some ice cream. I'm a fat freak.

TBT or not TBT's picture

A key take away being that diet alone works, without exercise.   This was well known until the 60's and early 70's when the mantra of all advice givers came to chant in unison that we have to exercise more and eat less.   Bollocks, we MUST eat less carbohydrates.   That is the only diet method that works relaibly and sustainably, excercise or no excerise.    The rest of the diets, when they work, have temporary effects only, unless they restricy carbohydrates specifically.

laomei's picture

Similar situation.  Just change your stupid diet and the weight comes off.  Those nutrition labels they slap on everything are not for decoration.  Eat 6 times per day and severely limit your intake of carbs while boosting protein.  No fast food, no microwave dinners, screw the restaurants too.  Eat at home and only eat things that you know.  Lay off the fruits and potatoes.  Thirsty? Drink water.  Drink black coffee.  Drink real tea (no, dont add sugar and milk).  This really ain't all that hard people.


After a year's contract with endless client dinners and lunches and no time to work it off, yea, I put on quite a bit.  Change the diet and 25 pounds fall off in a month.

Eat till you are not hungry, eat slowly, don't fucking stuff yourself, put down the donut, no more starbucks.  No fatty, you don't need chips, you don't need desert.  Eat dinner early and then nothing else after 6pm.  This is not a hard thing to do and you will lose all that fat.  But alas, I guess this is just too hard for the average american fatty to comprehend.

Tapeworm's picture

I CAN PULL MY 34" WAIST PANTS down bt releasing my belt and not unbuttoning the waist yet I am borderline obese on the gombit charts.

 The BMI charts are crap.

 My wife checks in as obese, and that is true. I WARNED HER ON MY REVULSION FOR FAT CHICKS BEFORE we were married. I love her dearly but am completely put off by fat. As an early teen I was stuck slow dancing with a fat chick and it scarred me forever. I cannot abide anything over a size 14, so you see that I am not unreasonable.

kekekekekekeke's picture

agreed about body fat percentage (I say this as a formerly "skinny-fat" person) , but I calculated your BMI at 28.2 which is below the 30 BMI "obese" threshold

GenXer's picture

BMI is retarded. Christian Bale was one point under the normal range in The Machinist. Google that and tell me thats ideal.

Central Bankster's picture

Yah, the numbers are bullshit if you lift weights 2-4 times a week.  Bottom line is this: if you can run a good distance, lift heavy weights, and you pass the "I dont look like a fatass in a mirror" test, you're good :).

American34's picture

Dang straight BlueCollardOne, I am 5'5" and weigh 155lbs and I can bench press 275lbs. I am also overweight by those dang indexes! And what the heck do I get CHEAPER health insurance for lifting weights 5 days a week! NOPE! They take my "Healthy Person Premium" and fork it over to some lazy buzzard who is to foolish to understand that cheap food isn't always good food and apparently thinks I should subsidize their eating problem. Overeating is an unhealthy LIFESTYLE and its a CHOICE! Subsidizing healthy care for overweight people is no different than subsidizing liver transplants for alcoholics! No one ever said it was easy staying in great shape but then again things that are worth doing aren't usually easy! By the way in the last 5 years I have eaten fast food less than 5 times!

jez's picture

Yeah, you are just overweight according to the BMI definition, with a reading of 25.8.

To edge inside the "normal" category of 18.5 to 24.9, you need to add just over an inch (don't ask me how -- medieval torture device?) or lose six pounds. Or do a bit of both, of course.

Stop doing those bench presses and replace some muscle with flab, is my best advice.

-- Jez (six-one, 170, old geezer trying hard)

Marginal Call's picture

"often preventable".  Hilarious.  Don't eat food designed in a corporate boardroom.

Joe The Plumber's picture

Humans thrive and are well adapted to live in mild caloric scarcity. This state promotes the longest healthiest life spans all things else being equal

We would be doing our poor people a favor if carbs were restricted and food less available to them

Joe The Plumber's picture

Bring back the fuckin rickshaw as a job for anyone on welfare

BlueCollaredOne's picture

Spot on. I used to do a little personal training on the side and would get clients to use a technique called intermittent fasting. It involves not eating for periods of 16 hours or so, twice a week. Combined with an effective weight lifting/aerobic routine it would melt lbs.

The wild thing is most would report that on their fasting days that they felt so alert, so much more type A, and once the hunger pangs subsided would sometimes become elated.

Its all biological though, when Man was required to hunt, hunger would signal many processes of the human body making it a better hunting tool.

Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

Don't eat food designed in a corporate boardroom. He's right, thats all you really need to know. 

Reptil's picture

Genetically manipulated corn designed by a corporation that is an expert in producing toxins.
Mice on a GMO diet turned obese. This research has been ignored, scuffled by the industry.


This is the elephant in the room most americans can't even see.

All this talk about changing diets is bullshit. If you don't eat organic non-GMO food, in the long run, you're SOL. And most food in the USA, including beef or pork, or chicken has now been changed by GMO.

Horizontal genetic cross contamination. That's right.. your DNA changes... eeh changed.



TBT or not TBT's picture

Fasting sets the body in ketosis, and the central nervous system running on ketone bodies, literally ACETONE, plus just enough glucose derived from the liver breaking down components of the body to provide the little bit of glucose the brain MUST have, which isn't much.     Attention however, the glucose is not derived from fat, it comes from eating up components of the body.    The brain works fine on acetone, though if you plan on doing any long distance running a bit of carbs in the mix will increase performance a lot.

BlueCollaredOne's picture

Actually restricting carbs causes the body to go into ketosis, you don't have to completely fast.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Agreed, you'd be in ketosis a good part of the night through the morning even on a mildly carb restricted diet.    Our brains run just fine on acetone with just the tad of glucose the liver can generate.

You can also be ketogenic, even when eating substantial amounts of glucose and other sugar sources, IF with that you take in medium chain trygycerides such as those in human milk or plentifully in coconut oil.     The liver converts some of those into ketone bodies, somewhat regardless of what else you eat.  

barroter's picture

You did it now. The National Restuarant Association will send thugs to your house to  flatten your tires.

barroter's picture

You did it now. The National Restuarant Association will send thugs to your house to  flatten your tires.

Kastorsky's picture

thank you monsanto.

Love, China.

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

America is fat yes sick in soul yes being led to the slaughter yes..the elite reptiles have ripped apart the social fabric and what passes for national culture is a used condom.


Bartanist's picture

They are now saying that low frequency radio waves cause obesity. Gee, ya think we have enough of those bombarding us every second of the day. 

a growing concern's picture

Yeah there's a new excuse every day.  Want to know what causes obesity?  Consuming more calories than you expend.  End of story.

Blotsky's picture

How in the hell can someone argue with that?

Its a damn fact.

3 fatties trolling the area.

Tuari's picture

I don't buy that 68% number. I think the measurements they use, the BMI chart is way off in many cases. At my peak, when I was heavily running and lifting weights, my 6'8" frame weighted 247lbs and was at 8% body fat. I was not ripped at all. But at 247lbs, I was considered overweight/borderline obese. I was jokingly debating which limb I should chop off to not be so overweight.

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

There is no moral hazard to being a fat fuck other than death. You pay the same insurance as a thin person does even though you use 1000% more healthcare. Jack up premiums for being unhealthy. Quit trying to tax sugar.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Insurance companies, and their actuaries, would love to offer such policies, but cannot offer such policies, because of regulation preventing it.

This is known as "bad luck"

Bad luck is also the explanation for why, after mandating that "insurance" must be sold to sick fuckers after they have already become sick without discriminating against them, a private health insurance industry can just disappear in a country afflicted with such rules.

The latter, by the way, is part and parcel of Obamacare, which is designed to destroy private insurance, the better to set the scene for nationalisation of the most intimate aspects of our lives, the better to render us permanently dependent and nannied over.

JustObserving's picture

There must be 50 ways to leave diabetes including eating raw and natural foods, avoiding diet drinks and fast food, getting some sun, watching less TV, eating nuts, modest levels of exercise, getting enough sleep, a glass or two of dry red wine, managing stress, avoiding transfats and high fructose corn syrup, but don't hop on the bus, Gus.  

If you want to quantify your risk and reduce it by more than 50% easily,  you can try:




TBT or not TBT's picture

Indeed, but note that the dreaded HFCS has only 10% more fructose in it than does familiar, good ol table sugar.     All sugars are are horrible, for all of us, not just diabetics, when taken regularly.   

fonzannoon's picture

what about sugar found in fruits?

TBT or not TBT's picture

An apple has about a 2:1 ratio of fructose to glucose in the sugars it contains.   Ditto with pears.    Neither of these is particulary strong in terms of vitamins and minerals.    Consume in moderation!     Humans evolved over millions of years from earlier forms.   Only in recent centuries, a blink of a an eye really, have fruits been available all year round, rather just in a short season where local fruits and berries ripen.   We love to eat them, are programmed to gorge on sweets, to store up calories from them while available, even though when we do it is a shock to our systems.   Fructose in particular puts the liver through a hard workout, the more so when we consume a lot of it together with sucrose sources, because the uptake rate of fructose in our guts is no longer rate limited when there is lots of sucrose around, and if I understand correctly vice-versa to some degree.    Table sugar and HFCS are blood chemistry wrecking fat cell carpet bombers.    We are not designed to handle copious year round supplies of them,   Everywhere in the world where cane sugar has been introduced to new populations it has been followed by a fattening of said civilisation, and all the host of "diseases of civilisation" that come alongside enriched carbs like sugar and flour.

JeffB's picture

Quite true.

Not only were they not around year round and in such abundance, the wild versions were far less sweet. The varieties in grocery stores and at fruit stands have been bred for sweetness.

See: Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin

YouTube talk: Sugar: The Bitter Truth


"The Skinny on Obesity"


Sugar isn't just "empty calories", but actively promotes fat storage -> obesity by ramping up the body's hormone, insulin.


JustObserving's picture

Fiber in fruit is healthy but fructose (fruit sugar) is not.  Eat the fruit but do not drink juice:

How fructose causes liver damage, obesity, diabetes and death
Your liver converts excess fructose into triglycerides.
• are building blocks for the bad LDL cholesterol that forms plaques in arteries,
• can be stored in your liver to cause a fatty liver,
• can be stored in your fat cells to make you obese.

Having excess triglycerides in your liver:
• causes a condition called fatty liver which interferes with normal liver function; and
• causes fat to be stored in your belly and decreases insulin sensitivity to cause diabetes (Journal of Clinical Investigation, May 2009).

Triglycerides can pass into your bloodstream to:
• damage your kidneys to cause high blood pressure, and
• in very high amounts, can form clots in your bloodstream.

All of these side effects of excess triglycerides increase your risk for heart attacks and strokes.


TBT or not TBT's picture

Indeed, despite the American Diabetes Association's previous recommendation of fructose to diabetics because of an oversimplified metric called the "glycemic index" rating of various carb sources, fructose is actually pretty horrible for us.   It very reliably produces "fatty liver disease" and has something to do with the creation of LDL ("bad cholesterol" in the parlance, because fructose MUST be treated by the liver).    Glucose, the sugar breakdown product of say, potatoes, can be burned or stored as glycogen or fat, one of the three, by nearly all cells in the body, and so every cell in the body can participate in the treatment of the emergency represented by the sudden arrival of lots of glucose.    Fructose, not so much.   It pretty much has to be treated in the liver, and directly causes LDL to be manufactured.

TN Jed's picture

That explains why Ocean Spray has been buy 1 get 1 free nearly every time I go to the store.  It also presents a new problem as I have about 4 gallons of that shit in storage.  Barter pile?

TBT or not TBT's picture

Watch the "other" fruit juice in just about ANY type of fruit juice you buy.    Very often apple juice is used as an economical filler for more expensive juice blends, also because of the higher fructose content in apple juice versus most others:   Fructose is sweeter at a given concentration than glucose.    They therefore need less apple juice as filler than they would need of other juices.    The typical weasel words on the label will say "100% Juice!" without specifying what kind.    Usually it isn't 100% Pomegranate Juice for example, or when it is, that is going to be much more expensive than neighboring weasel juices.

TBT or not TBT's picture

It's NOT a lack of excercise nor is it "overeating"..... it is eating too much carbohydrate laden food of every type, and particularly sugars, whether table sugar or nearly equivalent HFCS in soft drinks(and much else), and of course refined flour/bread, and of course loads of maltose for those who overdrink beer.

It is very difficult to maintain weight gain by overeating protein and fat alone when on a low carbohydrate diet.    That is what the science shows, and has held, for centuries now.    The whole "low fat" thing pushed by the USDA, the feddle gummint, and the American Heart Association, alongside most doctors actually helped cause the obesity epidemic, because the missing fat calories were replaced, necessarily, by carbohydrate in the ideal diet.   

In the real world, carbohydrate laden foods do not satiate, they make you hungry again as soon as the blood sugar havoc they cause is defeated by a heroic pancreas and fat cells.

Meat and fat alone in the diet are actually sufficient for humans, as proved for example by scientists and others who gone to live with inuits for example, and ended up healthier for eating only meat and fat for periods well over a year, than they had been before, thanks to dropping carbs entirely.   Yeah, that's NO FRUIT, NO GRAINS.  

The trouble is, not everyone can live this way, or anything close to this way(Atkins and similar type diets) given that the holding capacity of the planet for human depends (currently)  upon a preponderance of cheap carbohydrates from industrial agriculture going directly to human consumption.    Passing that product via chicken and cattle and pig stomachs first produces far less calories, dividing them by 4 to 7 depending on the animal source of protein/fat.     Bacteria cultures are pretty efficient at producing protein though not fat as far as I understand it, from cows milk, and cows eat cellulosic calories sources that humans cannot.    Inda, a country with a lot of vegetarians, fill the gap partly with lots of yogurt consumption.   But now I'm rambling again.

Börjesson's picture

On the other hand, there is plenty of land that is too rugged or too poor in nutrients to be worthwhile to grow crops on, but which is perfectly suitable for free-range livestock.

TBT or not TBT's picture

I'm with you there, having family in the beef cattle breeding industry and having been raised party on an operating cattle ranch, but there is only so much of that type of land.   No harm employing all such available land in that fashion..converting sunlight to cellulose to fat and protein thanks to grazing animals...I'm all for it, but there isn't enough of such land for everyone on the planet to live from animals fed that way.  Far from it.    And anyway such animals that do get raised on rough land are further fattened/enmuscled, in feed lots after that, on industrially produced farm products.

lizzy36's picture

If one wants proper "digestive" health (read the ability to poop on a regular basis) one needs some complex carbohydrates. 

Nobody can ever make me believe that eating vegtables (not french fries or baked potatoes) and fruit (apples, berries etc) will make someone fat.

Other than that i agree with most of what you say in this comment.