Movie and discussion focus on weight-loss obsession

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"America the Beautiful 2"

KALAMAZOO--The sequel to the award-winning film "America the Beautiful" will be shown free of charge at Western Michigan University in advance of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

"America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments" will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, in Room 2452 of Knauss Hall. Discussion with the audience by a panel of experts follows the film. The panel includes Darryl Roberts, creator of "America the Beautiful," and local experts, including a nutritionist, a medical doctor and a psychologist.

The 2011 documentary is not rated and has a run time of 104 minutes.

The film offers a passionate and sometimes humorous documentation of society's never-ending battle to slim down. The movie also weighs in on the so-called obesity crisis and features commentary by experts who believe that being overweight may not be as harmful as many think.

"Governments and health organizations have repeatedly lowered acceptable body weight standards so a large portion of the American population is now considered to be overweight," says Dr. Jon Robison, a WMU associate professor and leader in the Health at Every Size movement. "As a result, people of all shapes and sizes have developed an intense fear of fat that plays havoc with their self-esteem and promotes disordered eating and exercise behavior."

Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses. The film screening promotes the 25th annual National Eating Disorders Association's Awareness Week, Feb. 26-March 2, with the goals of preventing eating disorders, reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders, and improving access to treatment.

The Southwest Michigan Eating Disorders Association, WMU's Health Promotions and Department of Dance organized the event, which was made possible by a donation from Forest View Hospital in Grand Rapids, a mental health treatment facility that houses one of the few comprehensive eating disorder programs in the state.

Visit nationaleatingdisorders.org and kalamazooeatingdisorders.org for more information on eating disorders and Eating Disorders Awareness Week.