Fed Up is the latest in a series of documentaries that are ripping open the food industry to inform the consumer. The Katie Couric- and Laurie David-produced film is currently only showing in select locations, so it might be a while until it hits a theater close to you. Since we’re based in San Francisco and it’s playing in our area, it made sense for us to take the time to view it and share our takeaways.
Fed Up: The Top 7 Takeaways
1. “We’re not going to exercise our way out of this problem.”
As more and more experts are pointing out, America has largely been operating under the “calories in = calories out” myth. The next time you’re in the grocery store, make a mental note of how many packaged food items you see lead their marketing with the number of calories each serving contains. You can also check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website – it’s still touting the message that “a calorie is a calorie regardless of its source.” Since the 1980’s, America has also put a lot of emphasis on fitness and the idea that in order to lose weight, all one needed to do was simply “Eat less, move more.” This simplified solution suggests that obesity and overeating is a personal responsibility solely dictated by willpower. If we have been so crazed about fitness since the 80’s, how is it that obesity is now an epidemic to the point of being considered a disease? Fed Up addresses this calorie myth as flawed thinking, maintaining that not only is sugar to blame for this crisis, but that…
2. “All sugar is sugar”
All sugars, regardless of how they are labeled (i.e. white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, evaporated cane sugar, and brown sugar, to name a few), have similar effect on the body when it comes to producing insulin and raising blood sugar levels. Sugar is digested into glucose and can contribute to inflammation, a.k.a. the body’s response to internal damage.
Where can you find sugar? In short, everywhere. Mainly, highly processed foods. Even if you know to avoid soda, candy and cakes – food items typically assumed to contain sugar – sugar is in so many more common grocery store purchases, from yogurt and mayonnaise to salsa and canned soups.
FYI, the daily recommended allowance from the World Health Organization is 6-9 teaspoons, max. According to Fed Up, most Americans consume an average of 41 teaspoons. That’s over 5x the recommended daily allowance. Five. Times.
3. “This [obesity] is not about genetics.”
The last 30 years is where this obesity crisis has come to light. Fed Up’s message is that “Everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong.The approach has been all wrong.” Need some evidence? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has risen from 1.5 million in 1958 to 18.8 million in 2010, an increase of epidemic proportions.
In addition to the health outcomes of an individual, there is much concern over the economic effect that Type-2 diabetes (and other preventable diseases) will have in the long run. For instance, what are the consequences of treating diabetes for 30-50 years of a person’s life, as opposed to what we were accustomed to, which is treating it in a person that is 60+ years of age, and later along in life?
4. “Food addiction is a real thing”
Fed Up highlighted that “[food] companies are in business to make money, not get America healthy.” With that in mind, the documentary called out the different methods companies use to make their food something that people will buy more of, mostly by adding more sugar and salt. As brought to light in the film, “personal responsibility doesn’t work in the face of addiction.” Food has been engineered to be “hyper-palatable,” ever since the low-fat craze of the 1980s and 1990s. So while the fat and calories have been removed, the sugar content remains the same, keeping it addictive.
Something eyebrow-raising pointed out in the movie is that on a Nutrition Facts label, sugar is one of the only ingredients listed that does not show the DV% next to it, like it does for Fat, Cholesterol, Carbohydrates, and Sodium.
5. The term “TOFI”
“Thin Outside, Fat Inside” is a phrase growing in popularity. It refers to the idea that not all those that consume these highly processed foods physically show signs of the damage. “This assumes the myth that if you’re thin, you’re healthy.” The reality, according to Fed Up: 40% of non-obese are still in range of metabolic issues. “This is not just an obesity problem, it’s everyone’s problem.”
6. “There is a need to change how we perceive food.”
Fed Up highlights how junk food today is marketed to children just as cigarettes were in the 1980s: Using cartoon characters and brand names to drive the product off the shelves and into the hands of the consumer (child or parent). “Soda is the cigarettes of the 21st century.”
Without these heavy marketing tactics and forced perceptions, what would junk food be?
7. “It’s time to change the way we produce and consume food.”
Fed Up is aiming to motivate individuals: “If we want better conditions, we have to do something about it.” They issued a challenge to viewers and those that happen upon the website: “Sugar free for 10 days,” encouraging people to take their health into their own hands.
When it came to commentary on how food perception needs to change, perhaps one of the best phrases in the film was from Brady, a young boy video journaling his process throughout the movie:
“It’s not a diet or a detox. This is the way we’re supposed to eat.”
How can WellnessFX help?
What steps can you take to ditch the excess sugar? Check out our recent post, “Sugar and Your Body,” to find out where it’s hiding and tips on how to cut back.
As mentioned, sugar is a contributor of inflammation. There are a few ways to test for inflammation, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) is one of them. Our Baseline package includes this important biomarker, as well as many other advanced biomarkers that will give you insight into other risk factors you need to know about for preventing chronic diseases listed above, such as heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic disorders.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.