U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Weight of the Nation

The NIDDK Collaborates on HBO Obesity Project

Weight of the Nation.PNGOne-third of American adults are obese. Another third are overweight. How did this happen? And how can we, as a nation, return to a healthy weight? 

To help illustrate the answers—and to show the science of obesity and NIH’s efforts to combat the obesity epidemic—the NIDDK and other components of the NIH collaborated with HBO and major research and health organizations to develop The Weight of the Nation, a documentary series and public education initiative that spotlights this urgent public health problem. 

“If we don’t succeed in turning this epidemic around, we are going to face, for the first time in our history, a situation where our children are going to live shorter lives than we do,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, who appears in the full-length films. “It takes diverse and rigorous research to understand the causes of obesity and to identify interventions that work in the real world. The results from federally funded research, as seen in these films, can help to prevent and treat obesity and its complications.” 

The project consists of four documentary films originally aired on HBO in May 2012; a 3-part series for families; 12 short films, including one on NIH; and a nationwide community-based outreach campaign.

An HBO crew spent 2 days on the NIH campus, documenting how researchers are trying to understand, prevent, and treat obesity. “When it comes to America’s health, there are problems which must be confronted, even if they make us uncomfortable, frighten us or are so daunting we don’t know where to begin,” said HBO producer John Hoffman, who previously worked with the NIH on HBO’s The Addiction Project and The Alzheimer’s Project. “With The Weight of the Nation, HBO is again proud to stand together with the NIH, as we step forward to…hopefully reverse the obesity epidemic.” 

HBO also filmed several NIDDK grantees at universities, as well as people struggling with obesity and its associated diseases, representatives from local governments, health care providers, and many others. 

Leaders of the NIH Obesity Research Task Force from the NIDDK; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and the National Cancer Institute provided scientific guidance for The Weight of the Nation films and screening kits, which are available in English or Spanish. Health centers, community groups, and others who sign up on the HBO web-site will get copies of the films and guidance on how the project can assist in their organizations’ weight-control efforts. The films can be viewed online for free on the HBO website.

For more information, please visit the HBO web site at http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com and the NIH project website at http://www.nih.gov/health/ NIHandweightofthenation/.