by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
Watch HBO's "The Weight of the Nation" for Free
HBO joined forces with the Institute of Medicine, the CDC, the NIH, and Kaiser Permanente to create "The Weight of the Nation," a four-part documentary about obesity in America. All four full-length films can be viewed online for free. The first episode, "Consequences," examines the health impact of obesity in America. The second installment, "Choices," attempts to explain why lasting weight loss is so difficult and what the average person can do to take control of his or her weight. "Children in Crisis," documents the effects of childhood obesity. The final episode, "Challenges," explores the economic, cultural, and political factors that make it so difficult, even for highly motivated people, to eat well and maintain a healthy weight in the U.S. today.
After watching the first two episodes, I'm impressed. Experts present the mainstream consensus on overweight and health in accessible language. They explain the connection between obesity and diabetes, the link between excess fat and cardiovascular disease, the distinctive health risks of abdominal adiposity, the role of a fatty liver in producing the metabolic abormalities associated with obesity, and how stress hormones predispose us to overeating and weight gain.
The documentary pulls no punches about the dangers of overweight, but it presents fat people as compelling and relatable subjects, not as objects of repulsion or pity. We don't see any clicheed "headless fatties" shuffling along. The fat subjects are charismatic, funny, and self-aware. They come from all walks of life, some are call center employees, one is a judge. The message is clear: Their predicament is our predicament.