Editor’s note: For another perspective on this series, see this post.

The Weight of the Nation — a four-part mini-series that ran this week on HBO (and online) — has received a lot of attention. Produced in coordination with several federal government agencies and paired with a major national conference, the show has been heralded as “groundbreaking” and “bold.” But it’s really just the same old story.

The Weight of the Nation trailer alone smacks of tired stereotypes, but colleagues implored me to watch the entire series, so I did. And it was even worse than I feared.

I’m all in favor of bringing more attention to the nation’s diet-related health crisis. But the HBO series distracts us with the usual scare tactics, dances around the hard political issues, and leaves the viewer with the misguided impression that if we all just worked harder in our own communities, we could fix this mess.

A still from Weight of the Nation.

Fear the fat — more shaming and blaming

Many others have provided excellent explanations for why all the alarm-sounding over obesity should be questioned from a scientific perspective. For example, see Deb Burgard’s and Linda Bacon’s responses to the series, which both stem from the Health at Every Size movement, and aim to shift away from size and fat-shaming toward health and compassion.