The Overly Sweet Truth about Sugar – A ‘FedUp’ Movie Review

Did you know that in 1980 there were zero kids with type 2 diabetes? Now, there are more than 57,000.

Did you know that between 1977 and 2000, Americans doubled their intake of sugar?

Did you know that sugar is 8x more addictive than cocaine?

Did you know that in most cities you can’t walk more than 100-feet without your brain being activated by advertising or storefronts with junk food located at a kid’s eye-level?

I didn’t. Though I consider myself a well-educated consumer, the FedUp documentary opened my eyes to these statistics and the vast concerns regarding food in our country contributing to fatal illnesses.

FedUp, the 90-minute documentary hosted by Katie Couric, follows the history and connection of the food industry and public health issues over the last 30 years. It showcases the consequences after the U.S. Senate drafted the first dietary guidelines (1977) in order to combat malnutrition, obesity and other diseases. Urged by the food industry to promote a vague recommendation that Americans should lower their overall fat intake, the fat-free era began. Hundreds of lower-fat, higher sugar packaged foods flooded the grocery markets, convenient store shelves and school lunches throughout America. The documentary blames the food industry for the rise in sugar consumption with all the pre-packaged foods and beverages, which correlates with the massive increase in obesity and metabolic syndrome. The film also criticizes these businesses for the emotional appeal created with the mass marketing for these products leading to sugar and junk food addiction.

The documentary does give credit to many businesses including the big food companies for supporting government programs and initiatives to increase fitness to combat obesity. However, the film artfully shows through interviews with many big name doctors and testimonials from several obese children that fitness is not the answer. The real focus should be on eating whole foods including mostly fruits, vegetables and grains, not packaged items filled with sugars and artificial substances.

Ending on somewhat of an uplifting note, the documentary shines some hope that the government will push back on the food industry like they did with the tobacco companies. Though government has a role, the diet of Americans needs to change, too. Advice was given on how to make individual changes including joining the FedUp challenge” encouraging people to sugar detox for one week.

The Overly Sweet Truth About the Standard American Diet - 'FedUp' Movie Review

My Take

I don’t like to be a critic; I’d rather focus on the positive or what can I do. The information presented was compelling. At the end of the day, eating clean and with less sugar should not hurt anyone. So, I will take the information gained to make better choices for my family and community. I will also look to find more information to better understand what might be missing from the picture, since the food industry and some government offices chose not to participate in the documentary.

What I Can Do to Make Better Choices

Eat Less Processed:
The recommendation to eat less processed foods is good for anyone.

  • Find more vegetables that my family enjoys and serve them.
  • Puree fruits and vegetables and make sauces for my meals.

Educate Myself on the Food Industry:
My favorite resources include:

  • Nutrition Action newsletter (a government newsletter)
  • (the environmental working group – outside entity)
  • Research big companies that are making a positive difference in our schools and communities

Shop small:
Whole Foods and local health markets tend to carry products with less kid marketing appeal. Dora, Thomas the Train and Sponge Bob are seen with big brand cereals, yogurts and sweets. Most of these have tons of added refined sugars.

Investigate opportunities to make our schools and communities better:
Resources include:

See the documentary:
Talk about it.

Have you seen the documentary? What small steps can you/do you take to educate or activate a change to better public health in this country?

Sources: The stats used in this post are taken from the FedUp documentary or Photos courtesy of Grant Cochran and africa/