Review of Fed Up Documentary
I had the Fed Up documentary on my list of things to watch for some time, the film was released in 2014. Unfortunately life had different plans, It’s now 2016 and I’m just now watching the film by Stephanie Soechtig. Many people are interviewed: Katie Couric, Bill Clinton, Mark Hyman, Michael Pollan, Robert Lustig, Mark Bittman. The film follows a select group of children struggling with their own obesity issues and the steps they try to make change.
We watched Fed Up on Netflix, the film opens up with Katie Couric reporting this started as a small story; then realizing her entire career has been reporting about our nation’s weight gain. Entire industries have grown to combat the nation’s struggle with their weight. Magazines, talk shows, television entertainment, weight loss marketing, and the resolutions tried to curb the trends; are the solutions working or making things worse? Katie discusses her findings in this riveting documentary.
When did the trend to be more aware of our weight start, they ask? The response was in 1953 at a point when exercise was taboo, it was thought exercise would cause heart attacks and lowered sex drive. It was observed at that point that small and large mice ate virtually the same, the only difference being the lack of exercise. From that point on, people started exercising and yet continued to gain weight. Obesity rose and 2 out of 3 people were struggling with obesity; not just adults, children were now joining the obesity ranks.
Calories in, calories out are discussed and if that is actually true solution to the issue. They give 160 calories of almonds as an example, the fiber slows down absorption versus 160 calories of soda which delivers the sugar to the liver immediately, driving up insulin; this pushes the circulating sugar (glucose) into fat cells.
The film talks about big corporations and their marketing tactics, the funding of studies that require results which favor the industry providing the funding; this is a recurring theme throughout the film. Another point they address is the groups who threaten to withdraw contributions if politicians present their industry in a negative light.
During interviews, it is mentioned that it costs more to eat healthy; the movie presents evidence showing the cost of ingredients for a home cooked meal versus the same amount purchased in a fast food restaurant. They briefly address the long-term health care costs that could be the result of the non home cooked foods.
Over the course of the Fed Up documentary, they follow and monitor the progress of the children trying to make changes; one child having to get laparoscopic surgery. They question if genetic changes are the reason for the uptick of children developing adult metabolic disease.
One topic is the 1977 McGovern’s report stating to avoid foods which are rich in: fat, saturated fats, cholesterol, and sugar, triggering new government dietary goals. This was met by lobby group demanding a rewrite of the report, the dietary goals were rewritten. This was the start of the low-fat and/or leaner products on the store shelf and new product lines. Low fat tasted terrible, sugar was added to improve palatability, sugar sales skyrocketed along with marketing of the products, to kids no less.
Walk through any store, you’ll see products with all the added sugars, aisle after aisle of seemingly never-ending options of colorfully packaged enticing food choices.
One child shows what he believes are healthy lunch choices, based on packaging and marketing. which was misleading based on their sugar content. A new report by NPR.org, the USDA has just released their latest update and lists a recommended intake of 12 teaspoons a day for a 2000 calorie a day diet. Later, the same child is in tears regarding his life changes that have resulted in no weight loss.
Dr Robert Lustig calls sugar a chronic dose-dependent hepato (liver) toxin that is more addictive than cocaine, citing studies which show a higher sugar addiction than cocaine addicted laboratory rats who preferred sugar over cocaine. These same rats showed addictive response when the sugar-water was removed from their diets. The Fed Up Documentary discusses manufacturing companies working to start the addictive response with children as young as possible; as young as infants with baby formula and advertising that attaches cartoon characters to their products.
One point they make is the lack of USDA recommendation for sugar on labeling and the background behind that. If you’ve ever wondered why you don’t see USDA recommendations regarding sugar percent on nutrition labels, this is why.
This Fed Up documentary isn’t just about sugar, it also discusses the low-fat industry and milk fat. When the industry started the low-fat line, what would happen to all that left over milk fat? The answer, cheese became the new market line which advertised the use and sale of cheese; going against USDA guidelines.
The other difficulty is when fast food marketers are signing contracts with school districts to provide lunch meal; healthier choice meals are rarely selected when offered.
The Fed Up Documentary website has a food educators kit for schools and communities. They also are running an 10 day sugar-free eating challenge much like the one they discuss in the film. You can like their Facebook page for additional information; they are still active and updating it as of this posting.
What do you think, will you try to go sugar-free for 10 days? That might be more difficult than you think if you’re consuming commercially processed foods.
The children detailed on the film tried the challenge, lost weight, their updates showed they regained most, if not all, of the weight back.
You can see the trailer here: