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Hot Topic Tuesday: Can Documentaries Help Curb Obesity?

Will a documentary series open people's eyes to serious health issues? (Photo courtesy of HBO)

Written by Laura Cofsky, editorial intern

In America, growing waistlines have become a big problem. With nearly 70 percent of the population being overweight or obese, it seems like it’ll take a village to solve the dilemma — or maybe a country.

The HBO documentary series The Weight of the Nation stresses that, between ads for unhealthy foods, the expense of buying more nutritious options, the lack of workout spaces and a national shortage of produce (according to one of the experts, there’s not enough available for everyone to eat the recommended amount of fruits and veggies), losing excess fat is more than a matter of willpower. But dropping the extra weight is important: the hosts argue that obesity leads to five of the main causes of death —diabetes and kidney disease included— and costs businesses billions of dollars in health care costs each year.

The three-disc DVD set, which hits shelves today, may be a wake up call for some. The creators, in association with Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health, look at the issue from multiple different angles by consulting with various experts, discuss the consequences and possible solutions, and interview people who successfully lost weight and kept it off to give you an arsenal of information.

Now you tell us: What do you know about the obesity epidemic, and do you think documentaries like this can be useful?