It’s been a while since I’ve added a new post. I’m really working hard to try and finish my next book. Half of it is already at my publisher, and I’m cranking hard to send in the other half within the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I took a break from working on Friday night and went to go see “Fed Up” with a few friends. I really loved it, mostly. Here are some thoughts:
I’ve seen a ton of food documentaries and sometimes they sort of blend together in my memory. Fed Up had some refreshing new things to say. In fact, I was so impressed with the beginning that I really thought I’d love the whole thing. I have to say it was mostly great, with a few small exceptions.
What I loved:
1. Finally we see a film where the blame for obesity is the overconsumption of highly palatable processed foods with added sugar (often times with the label of reduced fat). I’m so sick of people telling me they became vegan after watching Food Inc. Really? Meatless Mondays? I do hate industrially produced meat, but HELLO, the real problem is not meat. Eating tofu and spaghetti on Mondays is not going to help anyone avoid diabetes.
2. They also talked about the myth that people “just aren’t moving enough”. They nicely illustrated how much time it would take to work off a soda or a medium french fry, and pointed out that people just don’t move enough in general to justify the types of junk food we’re consuming.
3. A calorie is not just a calorie. I loved that they explained this. It’s true. The 100 calories in chicken is different than 100 calories of a candy bar when it comes to blood sugar. It just is. Unfortunately, most people still don’t get this.
4. Junk food companies have infiltrated our school and are marketing to our kids. This is just wrong. They compared it to an old Flintstones cartoon where Fred was smoking a pack of Winstons. Can you believe it? Hopefully in 30 years, we won’t believe that you could actually buy soda in a school or see an ad for fruity pebbles on television.
5. They did a good job of explaining how a sugar addicted brain will want to move less and be craving more sugar. People don’t get fat from being lazy. They’re slow moving because their brain chemistry is not working properly from the overconsumption of sugary foods. Hopefully, this reduces some of the stigma associated with overweight people. Sugar is a powerful drug.
What I was not so fond of:
1. During the “a calorie isn’t just a calorie” segment, Dr. Lustig compared 100 calories of almonds to 100 calories of sugar. He said the reason almonds don’t act the same as sugar on your body is because of their fiber. There was NO mention of the fact that they contain protein and fat. I get that saying fat is good might be confusing to the viewers, but really – you can’t just oversimplify it down to fiber. That was really insulting to me as a viewer. I wonder if Lustig did go further and explain about the fat, but then perhaps the producers edited him? That’s the only justification I can come up with for such a strange comment. I have to add that the diagrams showing digestion were also very odd, anatomically speaking. Direct lines from the stomach to the liver, bypassing the small intestines, were comical, but then I get they were probably just trying to simplify things.
2. There was very little mention of healthcare as a contributor to the mess. They showed obese kids going to their docs, but never addressed our downstream healthcare model and the fact that there is actually big money to be made from the treatment of diabetes-related illness. All the blame was on the junk food companies and the government. A big focus was on how our government needs to step in and help us. I do believe that our government needs to protect us, but I also don’t feel that we are simply helpless sheep in the shadow of the man.
3. They had no clear way out. Their 10-day sugar detox is a follow up challenge for viewers, but then what? Also, just cut out sugar? What about all of the other junky processed foods? They tried to get some of the kids from the film to change from processed foods to home cooked but the only one who lost weight gained it all back again. The only success was the teen who had bariatric surgery. This is pathetic. I get that this is a big problem, and the parents have to be on board, but how depressing is it that there is no diet plan or clear way for folks to help themselves? A 10-day sugar detox isn’t going to save any of those kids from diabetes.
4. There was no mention of our evolution and how far removed we are, dietarily, from our hunter-gatherer past. There was no mention of how the diet of today resembles very little of what we have evolved to thrive on. They didn’t talk about what is a “healthy” person and what foods best support health. I felt this was a hole in the film.
5. They have a huge opportunity with this film to affect policy and also to help people. Their website does have ways you can find out what your school is serving for lunch, but with big contracts from industrial food service companies, and new schools being built with no kitchen facilities to actually cook food (just re-heat it), I’m not sure how much good it will do. I hope for all of our sake it helps. There’s also a link from their site to the Center for Science in the Public Interest site about a campaign to tax soda and other sugary drinks. Maybe that will help the way the cigarette tax worked. I don’t know. I’m just so surprised that with Gary Taubes and Dr.Mark Hyman in the film, there isn’t some sort of diet action plan being proposed for folks to try, beyond a 10-day sugar detox.
Interestingly, the Grocery Manufacturers Association has an ad running on google if you try to search for “Fed Up the film”. They have a website set up at www.fedupfacts.com talking about how much their doing to help solve the obesity epidemic. It looks a lot like the film’s site: www.fedupmovie.com
What did you think of Fed Up? I’d love to hear your thoughts.