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‘The Weight of the Nation’ debuts May 14 and 15, but this groundbreaking multi-part documentary series is just one part of the effort to raise public awareness on the growing health, economic and social issues associated with the obesity epidemic.
The project also includes nationwide dissemination of screening kits, which include the complete DVD box set with companion discussion guides, to more than 40,000 community-based organizations, as well as a marketing campaign focusing on providing healthy options at school, a robust online and social media presence and a book published by St. Martin’s Press.
Bringing together the nation’s leading research and health institutions, ‘The Weight of the Nation’ is a presentation of HBO and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.
To facilitate community action, HBO and its partners began distributing 40,000 screening kits to community-based organizations and coalitions, many of which focus on obesity prevention, including libraries, schools, doctor’s offices and public health departments across the country on April 24.
The kits, which consist of 14 films, discussion guides in English and Spanish, and tips and supplemental materials for hosting screenings, provide essential tools to catalyze and support local efforts in communities that combat obesity across the country. These kits will also be available for downloading at hbo.com/theweightofthenation.
Launching in early May, the expansive companion website for ‘The Weight of the Nation’ (hbo.com/theweightofthenation) will detail 75 simple steps people can take to improve their health, as well as the health of their families and communities. The “take action” section of the site will give people the ability to pledge their commitment to curbing the obesity epidemic, with acts ranging from planting a garden, to walking more, to eating a healthy breakfast every day.
HBO will leverage a full slate of social media platforms – from Twitter and Facebook to YouTube and GetGlue – to showcase these practical actions. In addition, a social media-fueled Pledge for Progress will rally awareness through easily shared calls to action on Facebook and Twitter.
May 1, ‘The Weight of the Nation’ Day, marked the beginning of a marketing campaign to raise awareness, educate community members about obesity prevention and provide resources for a healthier life.
HBO, in association with Whole Kids Foundation and Global Tap, is working to provide 100 salad bars and 100 permanent water stations in schools across the country, giving thousands of students access to fresh fruits and vegetables and clean water. The campaign begins with 12 markets; by September, 88 additional salad bars and/or water stations will be in place for the start of the new school year.
“The Weight of the Nation: Surprising Lessons about Diets, Food, and Fat from the Extraordinary Series from HBO Documentary Films,” from St. Martin’s Press, is written by John Hoffman, executive producer of the series, and Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS, executive officer at the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
Published April 24, the book is based on the rich research from the series and offers unvarnished truths about weight loss: that it is hard, that keeping it off is even harder and that there is no quick fix. Weight loss takes a lot of work and a lifetime commitment, but thousands have been successful.
The book explores the overwhelming factors that undermine efforts to reach a healthy weight, from a person’s unique biology, to the food industry that makes less healthy inexpensive food readily available 24 hours a day, to the inactivity that keeps people at their desks, in their cars and on their couches for most waking hours.
On May 8, “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention,” the report on a study conducted by the IOM and featured in the HBO film series, will be publicly released at the CDC’s Weight of the Nation conference in Washington, D.C. The report will identify strategies to speed up progress in curbing the rise in obesity rates.
Starting May 14, all four films will be available in their entirety for free for an unlimited time at the companion website (hbo.com/theweightofthenation). Following the premiere of ‘The Weight of the Nation’ May 14 and 15, viewers will be able to engage many of the films’ featured experts in live Q&As at HBO Connect (hbo.com/connect), the network’s innovative social-forward extension of HBO.com.
Three years in the making, ‘The Weight of the Nation’ offers an unflinching look at the severity of the obesity crisis, highlighting the groundwork for the societal transformations that must take place in order to slow, arrest and eventually reverse the prevalence of obesity and bring the nation to a healthier weight.
It is one of the most far-reaching public health campaigns on this epidemic to date. The multi-part, multi-platform series comprises four documentary films, a three-part series for families, 12 bonus shorts, a robust website and social media campaign, a book published by St. Martin’s Press and the free distribution of DVDs and comprehensive discussion guides to more than 40,000 community-based organizations working to fight obesity around the country.
To reach the broadest possible audience, HBO will use all of its services, including the main HBO channel, multiplex channels, HBO On Demand, HBO GO and more. All films will be available in English and Spanish, and will also stream free of charge on HBO.com, as well as on multiple platforms by participating TV service providers.
For more information on ‘The Weight of the Nation’ and the screening kits, please visit hbo.com/theweightofthenation.