Against the backdrop of the snow frosted, celebrity flush Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, an eclectic group of celebrities, and health and behavior experts gathered this week to discuss a topic of national significance--Americans' unhealthy relationship with food and its role in the obesity epidemic in the United States.
Ricki Lake, actress and talk show host, served as moderator for the panel which included Emme, plus-size model; Brad Lamm, board-certified interventionist; Dr. Susan Blumenthal, former Assistant Surgeon General; Tom Arnold, actor and comedian; Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD and obesity expert, and Dr. Andrea Pennington, medical doctor and wellness coach.
Panel and audience members alike provided candid, and sometimes emotional, perspectives on the role of food in their lives. Comedian Tom Arnold described growing up without a mother and being raised by two grandmothers who loved to watch him eat. "Food was love."
Up-and-coming actress Kay Cee Stroh from Disney's High School Musical was in tears and brought the rest of us to the brink as well as she spoke of her overweight sister who was sometimes taunted by fellow shoppers at the grocery store about what she was purchasing. Help for people who are overweight must be offered with love and not judgment, she said.
Two thirds of Americans are now either overweight or obese. It is a complex issue that even Academy award-winning director Barry Levinson is taking on. The Creative Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group which focuses on social issues, announced this week that Levinson will direct a documentary focused on obesity to help people recognize and overcome their unhealthy eating habits. The educational film project is being sponsored solely by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.
Education is clearly needed as our recent national survey revealed that eight in 10 Americans believe they're in control of their eating habits in spite of soaring obesity rates. The educational film, part of The Creative Coalition's Spotlight Initiative, is hopefully a step in the right direction to help ensure that predictions that nine out of 10 Americans will be overweight in 2030 don't come true.