'Weight of The Nation' documentary series debuts on HBO with free online access

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HBO Documentary Films is premiering the first half of its "Weight of The Nation" documentary series Monday night, produced in partnership with leading U.S. health research organizations, as part of a national campaign to fight the obesity epidemic now plaguing the nation.

The four-part documentary series features case studies, expert interviews and portrayals of families who are struggling with obesity and its associated diseases (including cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease and stroke).

Right now, almost two-thirds of U.S. adults 20 years and older are overweight or obese. U.S. youngsters are fast catching up with about one-third of all children and teenagers logging in as overweight or obese. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says obesity-related illnesses cost the nation $147 billion dollars annually — a number that's expected to climb if change doesn't soon happen.

Those dire statistics prompted the collaboration among the CDC, HBO, the Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health and Kaiser Permanente as a way to educate the nation and spur change.

"If we go in the path we’re going in it will bankrupt the health care industry," said Karen Coleman, a Kaiser Permanente research scientist who specializes in childhood obesity.

"It’s not just something that kids grow out of or something that’s a problem of habit or lifestyle," Coleman said. "It's a serious disease that will cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars in the long run in health care costs."

The documentary, which also includes a separate three-part series for families called “The Weight of The Nation for Kids,” delves into the economic implications of skyrocketing obesity rates, the science of fat and metabolism, the societal forces that perpetuate the problem and the heavy toll levied on our children

The first two parts of HBO’s “The Weight of The Nation” debut Monday night, followed by parts three and four Tuesday night. The network will also provide free access to all four segments online.

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