Obesity rates in the U.S. continue to rise at an alarming rate without a good answer to the seemingly unsolvable problem.
It is at the heart of a four-part documentary series on HBO, "Weight of the Nation" which begins airing on Monday May 14, 2012. It is also the subject of a conference in Washington, D.C. that begins today.
Currently one-third of Americans are classified as obese, according to a study performed at Duke University and reported by CBS News. The researchers have studied the epidemic and found that by the year 2030, that number could reach 42%.
"They predict that by 2030, 11 percent of people will be severely obese, as defined by a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40 or being roughly 100 pounds or more overweight. The findings suggest the U.S. health care system will be saddled with 32 million additional obese people within two decades."
One of the conclusions of the study is that if the country could only keep obesity rates level over the next 20 years it could save nearly $550 billion in overall health costs. The findings are published in the May 7 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The HBO documentary is part of a project created by the network in conjunction with the nonprofit Institute of Medicine, and two federal agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
The Daily Beast reported on it and the HBO program's producer John Hoffmann commented that it is unprecedented to have the IOM, CDC, and NIH all supporting a single television documentary. The idea is to “sound the alarm” and motivate the nation to act.
Dr. William H. Dietz, director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, said in a written statement. "In the coming days at our Weight of the Nation conference, CDC and its partners will emphasize the proven, effective strategies and solutions that must continue to be applied to help make the healthy choice the easy choice."
This week's conference entitled "The Weight of the Nation: 2012: Moving Forward, Reversing the Trend" runs for three days. The conference sponsors listed the gathering's objectives.
•Present policy, system and environmental approaches (PSE) that show promise or demonstrated success for improving population level health per nutrition, physical activity and obesity health indicators.
•Inform and engage policy makers on key obesity prevention priorities.
•Learn to more effectively coordinate with media especially on defining and portraying “health” as a normative component of one’s lifestyle.
•Increase the use of evaluation to develop and invest in impactful PSE approaches.