Star to host discussion group, film screening on Alabama's obesity problem
by Tim Lockette
tlockette@annistonstar.com
Jun 01, 2012 | 3641 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For the past few weeks, Anniston Star reporters have talked to a wide variety of sources –- from cops to “foodies” to Southern culture experts –- about Alabama’s obesity problem.

Later this month, local residents will get their turn to talk – and to ask questions of their own.

The Star will host a screening of the HBO documentary “Weight of the Nation” at 7 p.m. June 21 at the Anniston City Meeting Center, followed by a group discussion on what Anniston and surrounding communities can do about rising levels of obesity here and across the nation. Admission is free and everyone is encouraged to attend.

“Our state is at a crisis point in terms of obesity,” Star Editor Bob Davis said. “Finding solutions will require the community to become informed and engaged. That’s the goal of our series, Our Big Problem. We hope the June 21 screening will further a conversation about solutions.”

According to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control, 32 percent of Alabamians are considered obese. That places Alabama among a dozen states – most in the Deep South or Appalachians – where more than 1-in-3 have passed the obesity mark. Add to that the people who meet the criteria for overweight, and two-thirds of the state’s population are at a weight at which doctors say they should be slimmer.

It’s not a normal state of affairs. CDC numbers show that in the 1980s, just over 10 percent of Alabamians were obese. Alabama may be one of the leaders in the trend, but public health experts say the rise in obesity is a nation-wide problem – one that could wind up costing America a lot of money. One study by Emory University suggests that obesity will be the cause of 21 percent of U.S. health care costs by 2018.

Experts interviewed by The Star have offered a number of possible causes for the epidemic – from long drive times and work hours, to changes in the food being sold in stores, to a simple failure of good, old-fashioned willpower. In a discussion after the film, local residents will have a chance to discuss their own theories and possible solutions.

For more information, call 256-235-3560.

To read The Star’s recent coverage of Alabama’s obesity struggle, go to the "Our Big Problem" page.

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