The Weight of the Nation

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

I recently watched the first episode of HBO’s The Weight of the Nation documentary, and what stood out to me was how expert after expertthin expert after thin expert — would repeat that we have to do something about the obesity epidemic afflicting us and our children, without even suggesting how this might be a collective-action problem for our nation.


  1. Wobbly says:

    Can you explain a little more? I think you mean these are kinda like anti-alcohol prohibitionists but who are on a do-gooder mission to eliminate obesity, but I am not sure.

    I’d love to know what conclusions HBO comes up with given the diverse array of ‘expert’ opinion out there. The only name I recognized was Lustig.

  2. Faze says:

    I think what he’s saying is that there’s no “we” here, these people themselves have to do something about their obesity. In other words, “you have to lose some weight, buddy. And don’t expect the community to pay for it.”

  3. Isegoria says:

    As Faze noted, there’s no “we” here, and the experts’ use of the first-person plural struck me as terribly forced. They were clearly discussing other people from far outside their social class.

    HBO’s conclusion was the conclusion of the experts: we need more funding for anti-obesity efforts, because we have a problem that’s afflicting our children!

    What was odd was the juxtaposition of simple advice — don’t drink sugary drinks, limit your portions, get some exercise — with the message of powerlessness. We can predict your weight from your zip code. The Mexican kids in Santa Ana, California are overweight because of the lack of parks in their neighborhood. Etc.

  4. Wobbly says:

    Thanks. I hadn’t seen anti-obesity in the same light as anti-smoking and anti-drinking, but it is looking more similar these days. Soda tax isn’t far from minimum unit pricing for alcohol in both method and who it hurts (i.e. poorer folk).

    Maybe there’s a simple analysis for these antis where we can compare patterns of behaviour in the prohibitionists? What characteristics are shared or not between abortion, obesity, smoking, meat-eating, bottle-feeding, drinking, porn and so on.

    [Gotta spend the day fluffing hay so I'll have something to ponder in the tractor seat.]

  5. Wobbly says:

    Dalrymple satirizes this attitude with respect to female soccer.

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