Critic’s Corner: ‘Fed Up’

Think about your daily diet: cereal for breakfast, a turkey wrap for lunch, and maybe a slice of cheese pizza for dinner. Doesn’t sound all that bad, right? Wrong. Each of these items is hiding an exorbitant amount of sugar, which is the basis of the newly released documentary “Fed Up.” The film—written, directed and produced by Stephanie Soechtig—informs its audience of the effect sugar has had on the obesity epidemic over the past 30 years and how sugar is affecting the future of our nation’s health and wellness. Narrated by Katie Couric, we view 92 minutes of fact after fact that show how absurdly profit-focused the food industry has become. The film uses a mixture of Couric’s interviews with experts in the study of the food industry, their findings, and views into the lives of families throughout the U.S. As we see in the film, the food industry latches onto lower income and struggling families, who are more likely to buy processed foods over fresh foods due to pricing. From the food industry’s understanding of these buying patterns and their push for consumers, we gather statistics that are shocking—for instance, over nine million adolescents, aged six to 19, are currently considered overweight, and that number will continue to grow. Yet, this statistic extends outside of simply lower-income families; as stated in the film, over 95 percent of all Americans will be overweight or obese within the next 20 years. By 2050, one out of every three Americans will have diabetes. These unfortunate realities are explored throughout the film. One 12-year-old girl is often shown crying as she tries to lose weight from her 220-pound frame, and a 14-year-old boy gets gastric bypass surgery to slow down his weight gain, nearing the 400-pound mark. While it is likely that many viewers in more advanced areas—the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle or Washington, D.C., to name a few—will believe that the threat of obesity is only present in more rural regions, Couric and the other experts prove that obesity is present everywhere. Regardless of how a person’s body appears at first glance, the danger lies in high body fat percentage. In a test given to a family of four boys in the film, we see that, while only one is considered obese, three of the four have high percentages of body fat, which can cause many problems unless lifestyles are changed for the better. Much like previous films such as “Food, Inc.” and “Fresh,” “Fed Up” shows its research through experts like Michael Pollan, Kelly Brownell, and former president Bill Clinton, each of whom express deep-seated concern over the statistics they have found in their work. As expert Robert Lustig states in the film, out of 600,000 food items in the U.S., 80 percent of them have added sugar, which causes healthy change to be so difficult for many. From this statistic, we go on to see how realistic this statement is in our food industry. In comparing “regular” versus “light” or “low-fat” products, such as yogurt or cereal, we see that the percentage of sugar is relatively similar between the two. This is due to the fact that there is no government regulation on the daily intake of sugar an individual

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should have, which is why you won’t see a percentage next to the sugar on the nutrition label of any foods—seriously, go ahead and check. While I already knew this film would serve up some serious in-your-face facts about the food industry, I was even more shocked than I imagined I would be. There were quite a few times when I cussed, due more so to the food-industry bastards who have created this house of cards than anything else, and I was still getting over my shock and disgust for a few hours after leaving the theater. How can we accept the food industry’s lies as we see so many worrisome statistics? Overall, if you are interested in seeing the reality and danger of the food industry, go see this movie. It will be incredibly well-worth your time, and may even cause you to transform your life for the better.