On, Tuesday October 8, Alegent Creighton Weight Management sponsored a ‘Weight of the Nation’ event for the community where we showed a portion of HBO’s extremely well-done documentary, The Weight of the Nation, which explores the obesity crisis in the US . Immediately following the screening was an engaging Q&A with four panelists, each chosen for their ability to speak to various aspects of the obesity crisis:
1. Mary Baluff, Division Chief, Community Health and Nutrition Service at Douglas County Health Department
2. Becky Vinton Dorn, Executive Director, WELCOM (Wellness Council of the Midlands)
3. Michael Hovey, M.D., Bariatric Surgeon
4. Jim Phillips, Alegent Creighton Health Weight Management patient (has lost -155 lbs.)
During the Q&A there were some probing suggestions and questions asked of our panelists, everything from what Omaha is doing to help its residents get healthier to how can a parent help their kids stay healthy when they’re at school all day. One audience member in particular had a comment for Michael Hovey, an Alegent Creighton’s bariatric surgeon. The audience member knew someone who previously had bariatric surgery, lost a lot of weight, but then gained all her weight back. Dr. Hovey responded that he would want to determine if there was a problem with the surgery itself, were any anatomical issues, and then have her keep a food log. As I see it, any tool or method for weight loss can be “beat” including surgical procedures! We are privileged in the 21st century to have access to very good information along with many quality diets and surgical options. However, as the documentary highlights in a later segment, the focus must remain on our individual choices. So, rather than place our ultimate health hopes on something that is acting on us (a pill, procedure, device, supplement, surgery, etc.), let’s save our energy in order to confront how we ourselves are acting. This is the only way to ensure our own weight stays in check.
While this HBO documentary has taken some criticism for some of its elementary and mildly repetitive solutions (e.g. keep realistic goals, watch your portion sizes, ensure you are educated and act on this education), these are still the right answers whether we are excited to hear them again or not. Failure to emphasize this personal responsibility facet would be misleading. Overall, this documentary is balanced, straightforward and worth watching. What I especially appreciate is that it avoids getting caught in diet minutiae, and always keeps a pulse on the major contributing factors to obesity.
Memorable quotes from the documentary:
“It’s like I’m inside some kind of prison”
“We’ve built a cheap food model”
“You don’t crave broccoli”
“The reason we have government in the first place is to solve problems collectively we can’t solve individually.” – Thomas Farley, NYC Commissioner
“Marketing shapes kids’ choices, to foods that will kill them,” – Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.