Weight loss — swift, dramatic and usually involving a certain amount of puking on treadmills — has become a “reality” genre all its own in recent years, but that’s more about entertaining the masses, not shrinking them.
“I cringe when I see ‘The Biggest Loser,’” says one of HBO’s experts, Dr. Samuel Klein, director of Washington University School of Medicine’s Weight Loss Clinic. “It can actually do a disservice, seeing this rapid weight-loss that they achieve on television that is just not doable under normal circumstances in the real world. They focus on physical activity and exercise as a major therapeutic approach for treating obese patients and we know that’s just not correct.”
Correct, of course, isn’t always as entertaining.
The real-world approaches highlighted here focus more on small changes that can add up to longer, healthier lives than big reveals.
There’s a remarkable degree of sympathy in “Weight” for the two-thirds of U.S. adults who are overweight or obese. Not that most of the films’ subjects let themselves off the hook.
“Does the struggle ever seem sort of unfair?” a woman’s asked after a scientist explains why someone who’s lost weight will probably never get to eat like a thin person of the same build. Ever.
“Sure,” she replies. “But that’s part of the price you pay for allowing yourself to get overweight in the first place.”
Speaking of prices, you shouldn’t need an HBO subscription to see the films, which will stream at HBO.com and be distributed to community-based groups nationwide. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, HBO will also introduce “The Great Cafeteria Takeover,” the first of what this fall will be a three-part series, “The Weight of the Nation for Kids.” n
Contact Ellen Gray at 215-854-5950 or firstname.lastname@example.org follow on Twitter @elgray.Read her blog at EllenGray.tv.