“My question is, how will the whole community solve the problem of obesity—the food industry, the medical establishment, the residents of the region?” said Natalie Corman of Penns Valley.
Corman was one of many community members who stepped up to the microphone to ask this question and to offer possible solutions after viewing Consequences, the first film in the 4-part HBO series, The Weight of the Nation. Subsequent films will be presented on April 16 and 23 at 6:30 pm at The State Theatre in State College.
Corman is the director for the Centre County Office of Adult Services, and her agency helps to support the local food banks. From the film Consequences, she learned that those in poverty are especially prone toward obesity as a result of a complex set of circumstances, one of which is little access to fresh foods.
“Maybe we need to do more education for our food bank providers. Can they donate fresh food from their gardens? The answer is ‘Yes, they can,’” she said.
Stephen Donelan, MD, nephrology, Mount Nittany Physician Group, who championed the effort to bring The Weight of the Nation to State College and also served as the emcee for the evening, said that after viewing the film for the first time, his family began to take a look at their own habits including what they put in their food pantry. Together they made some changes.
Dr. Donelan’s son, Bradley, 13, and daughter Michelle, 11, said that they were “shocked and relieved” when they saw the film Consequences. They were shocked to see the graphic results of obesity portrayed in the film, but they were relieved to learn that we will see in later films that there are things they can do as a family and a community to help prevent this problem from happening.
Jan Ulbrecht, MD, endocrinology; Alex Szymanski, MD, cardiology; and Kerry Whitelock, DO, internal medicine, all from Mount Nittany Physician Group, served as the panelists. They fielded questions and also acknowledged that the problem of obesity is ultimately not one to be solved in the exam room. They emphasized the need to partner with patients to begin a conversation about goals, lifestyle choices and preventative measures.
The next film on April 16, Children in Crisis, documents the damage obesity is doing to our nation’s children. Panelists include Barb Blatt, project manager, Penn State Hershey Center for Nutrition and Activity; Linda Eggegeen, State College School Health Council; George McCormick, MD, pediatrics, Mount Nittany Physician Group; Megan Schaper, State College School Health Council.
On April 23, Challenges examines the major driving forces causing the obesity epidemic. Panelists include Steve Brown, FACHE, president and CEO, Mount Nittany Health; Susanne Marder, director of Employee Wellness, Minitab; Niki Tourscher, program manager, Centre Region Parks and Recreation.
For more information about The Weight of the Nation, visit thestatetheatre.org. To reserve free tickets for each of the films, stop by the box office of The State Theatre on 130 W. College Avenue, State College, or call 814.272.0606.