If you weren’t fed up already, you WILL be after you see FED UP–a new documentary on the obesity epidemic and how the food industry has conspired to keep us fat and unhappy, our children becoming the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents! According to FED UP, sugar is the devil and all processed foods are loaded with it. The documentary which began as a story reported on by TV journalist Katie Couric became this unnerving expose narrated by Couric and directed by filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig. Together they very carefully and lucidly trace the insidious links between the food industry, the government, and profit driven marketers and how they have co-opted the health, fitness, and beauty craze to sell more and more product, products designed to addict us to sugar.
The film approaches the issue systematically on all fronts: scientific, social, personal, and puts it in context historically. Among the more startling scientific facts documented here: not all calories are the same and calories from sugar are converted into fat more quickly in the body; fat free products are often packed with extra sugar to make them taste better; sugar is so addictive that one study showed 40 out of 43 cocaine-addicted mice choosing sugar water over cocaine.
The film challenges the social messages the overweight among us are being given– that if we are fat it’s our own fault for being lazy and undisciplined, when in fact, exercise cannot counteract the corrosive effects of a sugar-laden diet. The film takes on government which has allowed the conversation about obesity to be deflected (Michelle Obama listen up!), and which has collaborated in hiding the truth about how much sugar is actually in food– by allowing the food industry NOT to list what percentage of the recommended daily diet the sugar content is. Take a look at the label on any processed food–and you will find that number missing! And how about the way we serve our kids up to underfunded government sponsored school lunch programs which funnel cheaper-to-prepare, sugar-laced fast foods and soft drinks into the school lunch line, foods which supposedly meet “healthy” guidelines, guidelines which have famously designated “ketchup” (loaded with sugar) as a vegetable!
Finally there are the heart-rending stories of several obese kids and their families struggling with weight, not knowing how to eat healthily, and in some cases exercising daily while making little to no progress. Many of these children have, or are on the verge of type two diabetes, a disease that was once only found in adults; now it’s on the rise in children all over the world.
The filmmakers behind FED UP have interviewed everyone who would talk– from Bill Clinton to overweight kids and their families fighting for their very lives. What’s even more interesting is who the filmmakers tried to talk to but couldn’t. The list of prominent brands who refused to weigh in is lengthy and telling. Sound familiar? The food industry is now responding much the way tobacco did back in the dark ages when the first reports came out linking nicotine and cancer. There was lots of bald-faced denial, obfuscation, and pointing the finger back at the consumer, ranting about freedom to choose and government intervention in personal decisions. I agree–we should all make our own decisions–I don’t want anyone telling me what I can eat. But I have a right to know exactly what’s in it and what it’s doing to me before I take a bite. There have been miniscule attempts on the part of “big food” to make foods a little less toxic. But as someone in FED UP succinctly put it, “Junk is still junk even if it’s less junky.” I say, see FED UP– THEN have lunch.