There’s a sense of urgency to the TV voices, commentaries and sound-bites you hear during the opening credits of the new documentary Fed Up. What you’re hearing sounds like the insistent warnings of an epidemic about to hit our civilization, the kind you might hear setting the tone before an end-of-the-world zombie movie or an oncoming plague. What the voices are referring to, however, has nothing to do with the conventions of horror story-telling, they’re speaking of something the food industry will not be happy to know is being discussed: too much sugar in our diets and the negative effect it is having on all of us.
With a clear, no-nonsense narration from Katie Courac, the argument presented by director/producer Stephanie Soechtig is that everything we’ve been told regarding food and exercise for over thirty years from official government reports is wrong, and it does so in a straight-forward, matter-of-fact manner that is quite compelling, to say the least.
By 2010, obesity in American adolescents, the film tells us, was 57, 638. What happened? With diet fads and the desire to eat things labeled Fat Free, products on the shelves were changing. Remove the fat and the taste goes. As one commentator interviewed for the film states, remove the fat and everything tastes like cardboard. So the Food Industry added more sugar, and everyone seemed happy. Those on diets purchased fat free products, joined health clubs, exercised to Jane Fonda’s videos and believed they were on the path to continual good health, except for one thing; they were eating way too much extra sugar which was turning instantly to more fat, and fast.
Take these sobering statistics as examples: A 20-ounce bottle of soda contains something like 17 teaspoons of sugar. For a child, drinking just one soda a day increases his or her chance of obesity by 60 percent. Those who drink one or two sugar-sweetened drinks a day have a 26 percent higher risk of developing type ll diabetes. It is now recorded that in the United States alone, 93 million of us are affected by obesity because of the sugar in our diet. It’s really important to exercise your kids so they can fight obesity. Soon it will be 1 in 3 and climbing.
The film presents the problem and the arguments well by painting a picture of a nation under siege by sugar, and it does so with little fuss or artistic license. The documentary appears not to be interested in breaking any creative grounds; Fed Up is an unfussy, practically in-your-face account of how we’re slowly killing ourselves by buying into the misinformation campaign put out there by the Food Industry. The most creative, big screen moment comes when the soundtrack plays The Archies’ Sugar, Sugar while we learn how foods are re-engineered to have the fat remove and the tasty sugar added.
To use the film’s direct, economical manner, here’s the bottom line: The Food Industry is in the market to make money, not make America healthy. After all, it would take an hour and twelve minutes of vigorous swimming to burn a small set of fries. We already know that fast food with its extra poundage of sugar buried in there is not particularly good for us, but when we discover that health insurance companies are actually buying stock in fast food companies, knowing that our eventual ill-health will result in their profit, you have to know that something’s wrong.
MPAA Rating: PG Length: 92 Minutes Overall Rating: 7 (out of 10)