HBO is coming out with a four-part documentary about obesity, called “Weight of the Nation.” And judging by the trailer we’re super excited: Finally, it looks like someone is going to cover obesity without fat-shaming the crap out of audiences, or using public health statistics to push an extreme diet.
The documentary is airing next month, and was made in cooperation for the Institute of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes for Health as part of a large-scale public health campaign centered on obesity. The press release makes it clear that the documentary’s stance is definitively against obesity (it doesn’t look like anyone here is discrediting the link between diabetes and obesity, or even claiming that you can be overweight and healthy). But the previews are remarkably devoid of shaming obese people for how they look, or why they got that way—as Blisstree editor Hanna put it: “I like that they’re not doing the ‘headless fatties’ thing.”
Instead of presenting disjointed shots of overgrown body parts or close-ups of pudgy fingers shoving fast food into a mouth, they interview obese people discussing their health and how they feel physically. Sure, some shots—like the obese woman sitting against a white background saying “everything is hurting now”—are still kind of sensational, but they’re certainly an improvement on watching someone’s thighs rub together as they leave McDonald’s.
We have yet to see the campaign and documentary’s proposed solutions, but a statement from CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., in the press release also looks promisingly shame-free:
Obesity-related health care costs about $147 billion annually, and, on average, someone who is obese costs $1400 more a year to care for. To get healthy, we’re all going to have to do our part – individuals, communities, local, state and the federal government. If the obesity trend continues, we’re going to face steadily increasing health care costs, as well as more lives lost to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, many cancers and other complications from obesity.
Of course, at some point we do hope the documentary addresses more solid solutions and factors that contribute to the problem, but at least for now we’re really excited to see a documentary that focuses on obesity for the sake of trying to solve it—not shock or shame people into a specific agenda.