Fed Up — What’s Behind the Obesity Epidemic?

Fed-UpLast weekend, I went to see the new movie Fed Up, produced and narrated by Katie Couric. The movie’s premise is that sugar, specifically the added sugar in processed foods, is the cause of our obesity epidemic.

Should you go see it?

If you already keep abreast of the obesity epidemic, reading articles here and there, and are interested in leading a healthy lifestyle, chance are Fed Up is not going to tell you much you don’t already know.

It did offer some startling statistics, like:

  • The average American’s daily intake of sugar has doubled since 1977.
  • In 1980, there were no cases of type 2 diabetes among adolescents. In 2010, there were 57,638 cases.
  • 80% of schools have a deal with fast food companies, ensuring their products are sold in the cafeteria.
  • Body fat scans showed that some children carried excess abdominal fat even though their weight is normal, meaning children who are not obese – or even overweight – may run the same risks of metabolic disease as their obese counterparts.

I didn’t agree with the movie’s assertion that eating less and moving more is not the answer.

While processed foods are no doubt a huge factor, our sedentary lifestyle is another culprit. We are glued to our electronics and overly reliant on our cars. The United Health Foundation reports that about 25% of Americans have gotten “no physical activity or exercise (such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening or walking) other than their regular job in the last 30 days.” That seems to tie in with another statistic, that more than one-third (34.9%) of Americans are obese. (Center for Disease Control)

Four Obese Kids:

Four  obese children were profiled, all from poor or working class families. The food on their tables was as overly processed as what we were shown in their school cafeterias. One mother loaded her grocery cart with various reduced-fat foods by Nabisco in her attempts to improve the family’s diet.

A beautiful 12-year-old girl was morbidly obese, despite being on a swim team, running, and kayaking. She made little to no progress in her weight loss during the movie. Her struggle was showcased, and her pain was real.

Peeking into the lives of these fat kids brought home how ubiquitous processed foods have become. Fed Up tells us what most of my readers already know – that the food industry is not interested in keeping American healthy, they are in business to make a profit. They know and exploit how our bodies crave sugar (and fat and salt).  The movie shows the brain scans of people eating sugar next to those high on drugs. In both the pleasure center is all lit up. In fact sugar is more addictive than heroin. Some addicts are eventually able to kick their drug habit, but who can stop eating food?

The message in Fed Up is loud and clear, but until this movie reaches the main stream – is out in the rental market or better yet, is shown in schools, I think it’s preaching to the choir. On opening weekend in Phoenix Fed Up was shown on one screen – in an independent film theater. The audience was older, well-educated, but did contain quite a few overweight viewers. I was glad to see the woman next to me brought four kids. They all seemed pretty jazzed by the movie’s message. That’s one impressive mom!

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2 thoughts on “Fed Up — What’s Behind the Obesity Epidemic?

  1. I’m with you: Eating fewer (and better) calories and moving more IS the answer. It should start in the schools, with more PE, healthier school lunches, and more education about healthy lifestyles for kids and their parents.

  2. Pingback: Six Things to Remember When Feeding your Kids this Summer | Elemental Wellness

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