"Obesity in America has reached a catastrophic level. Almost every aspect of our lives is threatened. The first step toward ending the damage is learning how to fight back."

That's how HBO has been promoting its four-part series that begins tonight, The Weight of a Nation: Confronting America's Obesity Epidemic.

I can hear the moans out there. "Enough already about obesity. Too many Americans are overweight. We get it."

But do we get it?

True, most of us in health care understand by now that obesity is a major issue contributing to unheard of spikes in diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. We are shocked by the possibility that our children could be the first generation of Americans ever to have shorter life expectancies than their parents. We "get it" that the cost of treating obesity is an enormous burden on the health care system, and that on top of that there is the huge expense of retrofitting facilities and equipment ‘ doorways, beds, toilets, ambulances and lots more ‘ to accommodate these patients.

The question is whether we as a nation have really committed to confronting the crisis beyond a few feeble attempts to promote exercise and healthy eating.

The Weight of a Nation attempts to nudge the conversation forward, putting the "catastrophe" into vivid context and offering resources and practical recommendations. It's an ambitious undertaking. Besides the four televised episodes, it includes a companion book, action guides, tips on spreading the word through communities and more.

Although the series is aimed primarily at consumers, health care professionals will come away with a clearer understanding of the scope of the problem and with advice and tactics to share with their patients.

The first two installments will be shown tonight, and repeated periodically. DVDs also are available. Part 1 focuses on the consequences of the obesity epidemic and Part 2 on "choices." Tomorrow's final two episodes are titled "Children in Crisis" and "Challenges."

To learn more, click here.