Thursday, April 12, 2007

PBS Documentary on Obesity

Suzique from Waisted in the Wasteland posted this link yesterday to a PBS show that aired last night. (I thank her because I wouldn't have seen it otherwise.):

Fat: What No One Is Telling You

I missed it. In fact I was sleeping at the time. Did you know that lack of sleep increases the risk for weight problems?

Since I haven't seen the documentary, I can't speak to it. But I can speak to that title. No one is not telling you anything about fat. There isn't a conspiracy here. It's easy to find out what there is to know about overweight and obesity.

If you watch the preview for the show, you'll see a gentleman with glasses, a tie and buttoned-down shirt, in an office environment saying:1
"I don't think we're at all appreciative of how complicated body weight regulation is. How hard the problem is to solve. How much the body works to prevent starvation."
The man has a point. But, whatever it is we understand or don't yet understand, it's all out there for the world to see. It isn't as if someone is keeping it from us.

Did you get the feeling he was making the problem of obesity sound like a purely biochemical issue? It's probably more a complex interplay of psychological, social, political, economic, as well as biochemical factors, much like ______.

There are a few more videos about this documentary on YouTube...
One expands on The Treadmill Lady's interview. She describes an epiphany in a park.
- Fat: What No One Is Telling You, PBS Excerpt #1

Another looks like a re-edited version of the piece PBS posted on their promo site. It's a shame this one didn't make it because it includes an interview with a young girl, maybe 2 or 3 years old. That interview reveals an essential factor in the fight against obesity:
Interviewer: "Why did you pick the cake?"
Girl: "Because ... I like cake!"
Interviewer: "What do you like about the cake?"
Girl: "Um, well, (she looks around the room), I like the cake, because, um, ah, um, it's so good and I like the icing a lot!"
- Fat: What No One Is Telling You, PBS Excerpt #2
There's another person in the original preview I'd like to draw attention to ... the young man (who does not appear to have a weight problem) responding to the young man (who does appear to have a weight problem). When the second man states that the solution to his weight problem is surgery, the first man implies that the second man is:
" ... someone who hasn't tried losing weight, physically."
I'm curious to know what people think of this.

Some Numbers

When you're involved with diabetes as I am, you're involved with weight problems. In 2004, the CDC found:
" ... the prevalence of overweight or obesity was 85.2% [among people with diabetes]."2
That 85.2% is higher than the prevalence of overweight or obesity in the general population, which is around 66%.3 That in itself is astounding.

So ... What's different about the last 20 years that has caused so many people to put on so many pounds? Haven't we always liked cake? Is there something someone isn't telling me?
1 Although the trailer didn't identify him, I think the speaker here is Dr. Lee Kaplan. From PBS's site: "Meet Dr. Lee Kaplan of Harvard University Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, who is a clinician, researcher and above all an empathetic warrior in the battle against obesity."
If I'm to believe the empathetic part, then, by the looks of him, it appears Mr. Kaplan has won his personal battle against obesity.
2 Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Adults with Diagnosed Diabetes
3 Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity, NIDDK

No comments: