New Documentary Explores The Emotional Complexity of Childhood Obesity

 Weighed Down: Finding Hope for Childhood Obesity

 Airs Sunday, June 26, at 1:30 p.m. on Nine PBS


St. Louis, MO., — June 20, 2016 – An inspiring new documentary film tells the story of obese children struggling to lose weight during eight weeks of summer camp. But this is no “Biggest Loser” story. For this group of campers, the challenge is about more than losing pounds—it’s about emotional resilience, and the gaining of new confidence.


Childhood obesity rates in the United States have tripled over the past three decades, creating a public health crisis. The documentary film WEIGHED DOWN, directed by award-winning filmmaker Lori Dowd, brings human scale to this startling statistic. The film offers an intimate, heartbreaking look at obesity and the hidden damages caused by poor self-esteem, bullying, and depression.


“Obesity isn’t just the cause of their pain—it’s often a symptom” says Lori Dowd. “These kids are learning to take back control of their emotions, their health, and their lives.”


In the film, viewers meet:


  • Alex, 17, loves video games and surfing the internet. His dependence on technology has been a major factor in his weight gain.


  • Brittane, 16, and struggling with depression, is concerned that without intervention her prediabetes is likely to become type 2 diabetes.


  • Parker, 13, has a history of being bullied due to his weight. He’s starting to realize that his obesity is a symptom of something else.


  • Emma, 10, turned to food to seek comfort in dealing with her parents’ divorce. Will she find the confidence to deal with her situation at home?


Nine PBS will broadcast the film on June 26 at 1:30 p.m. “It’s important to explore this complex medical issue in order to encourage conversation in our community” says Amy Shaw, Nine Network Senior Vice President of Community Engagement. The documentary will then be shared across public television stations starting in September 2016.


StoryTrack produced the film, and The National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) has selected the documentary for national distribution to more than 300 public television stations.


“We encourage all concerned parents and family members nationwide to contact their local public television station’s programming department and urge them to air ‘Weighed Down,’” says the film’s producer Alyssa Schier.


About the Director

Lori Dowd is an award winning filmmaker and the CEO of StoryTrack. At StoryTrack Dowd leads the firm’s storytelling. She weaves stories through and across media that deliver important content and create a human connection.


She began her career as a producer at WXYZ in Detroit then transitioned into reality television for Lifetime and developed documentary programming with PBS and the History Channel. Among her projects are “Works In Progress” aired on PBS stations in 2016; “Gearing Up” aired on PBS stations in 2009-10; the “I Married A Princess” reality series, aired on Lifetime TV 2005; and “Lindbergh Flies Again,” a documentary aired on History Channel in 2002.


For more information please see


About the Production

“Weighed Down: Finding Hope for Childhood Obesity” is a production of StoryTrack and presented by KETC, The Nine Network of Public Media.


Funding was provided by William S. Anheuser Family Foundation, Marti Lanese, Karen Wilson, and StoryTrack.


About the National Educational Telecommunications Association

The National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) is a professional association that serves public television licensees and educational entities in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Since 1967, our reason for existing is to connect public television people and ideas, by providing quality programming, educational resources, professional development, management support, and national representation. For more information, please visit


About Nine Network of Public Media

The Nine Network of Public Media is a multifaceted public media organization creating a network of individuals and organizations empowered by public media to strengthen civic life. The Nine Network’s rich legacy of serving the community was launched in 1954 and continues through our mission of bringing St. Louis together as we connect our region to the world and the world to St. Louis.