As the age-old adage goes, you are what you eat. The Katie Couric-produced documentary explores the old-saying’s truth in the growing obesity epidemic. With interviews with some of Washington’s power players, past and present, the documentary weaves a tale of corruption and conflict of interest that dates back nearly three decades.While the cure to obesity has been attributed to “eating less and exercising more”, Fed Up looks behind the narrative created by the major food corporations to discover what is perpetuating this epidemic.
Katie Couric’s narration provides essential background that teases out the roots of the current problem. When the 1970s and 1980s prompted an awareness of the health effects of fattening foods, major companies replaced fats with increased sugar to make the revised products palatable. More and more sugar has been added over the years so that most people are exceeding the recommended sugar quantities (about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men according to the documentary) by six or sevenfold.
What the documentary is quick to show is obesity is not just a uniquely American problem. Global obesity rates have increased at similar rates particularly in the Middle East. The myth of being able to combat obesity with willpower is misguiding individuals to the cause of the problem. With fad diets, targeting carbs or eating nothing but fruit for a week, the problem is not being solved.
Even with “healthy” foods, the amount of added sugar is astounding. From pure observation alone, whole grain cereals have around 10 grams of sugar, nearly a third of the daily allocation. Yogurts generally have a range between 10- 15 grams. Even the healthy foods have considerably more sugar than what appears to be. Part of the reason for which the sugar contents are less noted than other dietary ingredients is because of the successful lobbying of the sugar companies.
Following a model similar to that of the tobacco companies of the 1970s and 1980s, the sugar industry has vilified individual habits instead of admitting the potential health hazards of excessive sugar intake.