"The Weight Of The Nation": Documenting America's Obesity Epidemic: Part 2 - Choices

Yesterday we saw the first part of the HBO Documentary "The Weight Of The Nation" focusing on America's Obesity Epidemic which could be summarized as follows: "68.8% of Americans are overweight or obese - what are the consequences?" Today, the premium cable channel has released the next episodes in the series, titled Choices. The second film poses a question that almost anyone who’s struggled with excess weight has asked, if only in jest: For all the remarkable high-tech tools available to medicine, for all the billions of dollars in drug research, there’s still no highly effective medication to prevent or reverse obesity – why?

From HBO:

Researchers are, in fact, developing and evaluating strategies to help people reach and maintain a healthy weight, so that they can look forward to healthier lives. Diet is a part of the equation, but most name-brand diets promise quick, dramatic rewards and gloss over the long-term effort needed to keep weight off. Maintaining weight loss is a challenge, and success requires sustained changes in our food and physical activity.

Weight - whether we gain it or lose it - is dependent on our body’s energy balance: We are in balance when we take in and burn off the same number of calories each day. Take in more calories than we burn, and the pounds add up. Take in fewer, and the number on the scale goes down.

Your body’s energy requirements don’t necessarily stay the same throughout your entire adult life. One theory suggests that if you become overweight or obese, your body establishes a new normal weight, called its “set point,” which your body will fight to maintain even after you lose weight.

Shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’ may lead us to believe that exercise is the best or only way to lose weight. But successful programs aimed at losing weight and keeping it off target both eating less and being more physically active.

We eat for all sorts of reasons, not just because we’re hungry. We eat because we’re bored, sad, tired or - all too frequently - stressed. When we eat for reasons other than getting the right nutrition, we affect our weight and put our health at risk. New research suggests that taking time to think about what we eat - and why we are eating - can be an effective way to attain and maintain a healthy weight.

As adults, most of us spend more than half of our waking hours at work. And today’s jobs, many of which require hours a day parked in front of a computer, are often both sedentary and stressful. But there are small steps we can take to eat better and move more at work, even when our schedules aren’t flexible.

Making the decision to set and achieve realistic goals can, over time, lead to big results. And as we learn from Rhonda and Elana’s warm and supportive relationship, having a friend and partner can be invaluable when it comes to the hard work of keeping weight off.

If you have high blood pressure, the doctor isn't going to tell you to bring it down for six months and then do whatever you want. Maintaining a lower weight is similar. It’s an ongoing process that requires work and must be constantly monitored.

But the all effort to maintain a healthy weight does pay off. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a large, multi-site, NIH-funded study, has shown that high-risk participants (people with “pre-diabetes”) who lost a modest amount of weight through changes in diet and activity levels greatly reduced their chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Part 2: