Norwegian researcher Merete Eggesbø, whose work focuses on environmental toxins and child health, had said that Norwegians prided themselves on their health. We were confronted with this immediately on the flight from Edinburgh – where youth may have been evident, but beauty and health, maybe not so much.
Everywhere we filmed in Oslo and its environs, we were confronted by healthy-looking people. They flaunt it, they really do. Merete told us that she had never seen a fat person until she travelled to the United States as a child thirty years ago. Now, unfortunately, she is beginning to see them in her own Norway. And in analyzing the breast milk of Norway’s mothers she may be getting an idea of why, in spite of her country’s obsession with physical fitness, her countrymen are gaining weight.
On our last afternoon in Oslo I walked around the city while the crew filmed a few more scenic shots. I searched for the National Gallery. It was hard to find because there are virtually no signs. I finally recognized it from an exiting school group. I went in. There was no charge. There was no metal detector. I checked my coat. The sound of the children echoed around the entranceway. I wandered up the staircase and into Norway’s national art collection. A few rooms down, turn to the right, and the right again, and there were the principal works of Norway’s most famous artist, Edvard Munch. Except for a museum guard, the room was empty.
On the far wall was “The Scream”, a medium-sized painting. It had been stolen a few years before. I checked out the guard. He seemed a bit sleepy. I figured I could get it past him and run like crazy. But…naw. I had more footage to get in Amsterdam; I didn’t want a life of crime and subterfuge to obstruct my science journalism. I’d leave the Munch for another day. — Bruce Mohun, director, Programmed to be Fat?
Programmed to be Fat? airs Thursday, January 12 on CBC Television’s The Nature of Things.