“Fed Up” – my review of the anti sugar movie

Fed Up – Movie Review

Fed Up Movie Trailer

My blood is boiling and I am “Fed Up” with the big companies in America lying to us to make a buck! Anger seems to be the emotion that the producers of Fed Up were going for.  Well, they got it from me.  I AM ANGRY! What might surprise the producers of Fed Up is that I am not only Angry at the things they want me to be angry at, I AM ALSO ANGRY AT THEM!  I am angry for their massive failure to educate movie goers about the dangers of not just ADDED sugar, but of CARBS also.  They misseed the boat big time, even showing a “healthy” lunch at the end which was a sandwhich and some fruit!  WTF?

Before you go off on me, read on for my full review.

Fed Up is a documentary that dives deep (or appears to) into the obesity epidemic in America, specifically looking at childhood obesity (an issue that I am extremely concerned about).  3 fat kids are the “stars” of the show and the producers show us the kid’s diet, we hear a couple of stories from the parents (also fat), and they do a good job at tugging at your heart strings.  (Sorry, I’m not a very politically correct person – I call a spade a spade.)

It clearly takes on the sugar industry, doing a great job at illustrating the power of the sugar companies (and corn) to influence policy decisions regarding nutritional recommendations.  This movie even hints that Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign came to be only AFTER big companies like Coke and Pepsie got involved.  Why is this bad?  If you believe the insinuations (I wish the accusations would have been much more direct) made by the producers of this movie, it’s because they were threatened by her early on diet advice.  It turns out that early on Michelle Obama was talking about dietary intake of sugar as being the main cause of obesity.  Could you imagine the amounts of money that would be lost if people realized how bad sugar was?  If they learned that the “healthy” juice they are drinking is loaded with sugar – aka poison?   So in steps the big companies and the next thing you know, Michelle is now preaching the same party line of “move more” and “it’s all about calorie in vs. calories out”  If you can’t beat em, join em right? Watching her message transform over the years was a very powerful way for the Fed Up producers to get their message across.  You can’t help but get mad when you see how the big companies won this battle.

1.5 Trillion Calorie campaign

Apparently the big victory to date has been the pledge by a lot of large companies to remove 1.5 trillion calories from the marketplace.  The movie does a great job explaining what a joke this is, as it equates to just 14 calories (1 bite of food, or 1 sip of pop) per person.

Fed Up goes even further by showing examples of what this effort has produced when it shows side by side comparisons of the “before” and “after” pictures of products that companies kept their pledge with.  Things like Quaker Granola Bars:  Their contribution?  If memory serves me, it was 100 calories less in the new “healthy” bars.  But guess what?  The new bars still had the same amount of added sugars in them!

Removing calories from the marketplace is a joke.  The end result of this campaign was just more added calories, because while the companies released new lower calorie options, they were not required to actually remove any old products.

Vilifying Added Sugars – But Failing Miserably EVERYWHERE else

Fed up does a great job at vilifying sugars, but fails the 3 “stars” of the show miserable, and fails to get the point across that carbs (even “healthy whole grains”) are sugar also.

They attempt to cover the fact that carbs are bad with a brief 10 seconds or so of one doctor saying something to the effect that “below the neck, sugar and bread are the same to your body.” They both produce an insulin response.  Then we don’t hear another word about it!  They also explain that fruit is ok because “of the fiber” in it that slows the insulin response.   Are you kidding me?  The problem with this is not 1 serving of fruit or even a couple servings per week.  The problem, especially for fat kids with type 2 diabetes or that are pre-diabetic, is that if they like fruit, they will eat multiple servings of fruit per day.  This equates to sugar, sugar, and more sugar. Take a look at some of your favorite fruits sugar content here (note, I have not fact checked this list)

Later in the movie, they also give the impressions that breads and pasta’s are ok.   GRAINS ALSO TRIGGER AN INSULIN RESPONSE!  

The message of the movie should have been ADDED SUGAR + GRAINS + SUGAR FROM FRUIT = A LOT OF SUGAR IN OUR DIETS!  Can you eat a piece of fruit – sure.  Can you have a couple servings per week – probably – but should you eat multiple servings of fruit day in and day out?  NO!  Same with breads and pasta’s.  “Bellow the neck” grains and pasta’s are just sugar to your body.  Does that mean that you can never have another slice of bread or small portion of spaghetti?  No, but for our 3 fat kids in the movie who are addicted to carbs and sugar, they probably shouldn’t be eating bread and sugar in an effort to cut out sugar and break their addiction!  After they have lost all the weight, and after they are fit and healthy, they can add back in a serving of fruit, or a plate of spaghetti.  By then, the addiction has been broken, and things like fruit are a treat – dessert.

Whole Foods Are Good

The Fed Up producers did do a good job of preaching the whole foods message, but they failed miserably to explain that “whole grains” are not whole foods.  They are still processed like crazy to make the bread or pasta. There is no such thing as Healthy Whole Grains!  Their is nothing in a grain that we need.  All vitamins and fibers have been added in the PROCESSING of the “healthy whole grain.”  “Healthy Whole Grains” are not healthy, whole or natural by the time you put them in your mouth.

The belief that there are healthy whole grains is yet another belief that has been implanted in our heads by a very clever marketing campaign from the bread and pasta makers.  We believe whole grains are healthy because everywhere you look you see a “healthy whole grains” label slapped somewhere.  Why do you see this label?  Because the companies that make the crap foods that are slowly poisoning America started losing money when people realized their “healthy” cereal might not be so healthy after all.  So they took out a few products, added a few more, and re-branded it as “healthy whole grains”.

Grains are Sugar to your body and SUGAR IS BAD.  All Sugar!

For our 3 fat kids, if they are ever to lose the weight and change their lives, they need to change their thinking.  The need for education is illustrated at the end of the movie when one of the kids is saying that he’s exposed to “unhealthy” food all the time.  At school, everyone is eating fatty nacho’s with cheese, hamburgers with french fries, and chili cheese fries.  What he doesn’t know, and where the producers failed miserably (which is why I am mad at them too) is that the reason his hamburger and fries are unhealthy is because the bun has added sugars AND is made of grains – that’s 2 doses of sugar from 1 source.  The french fries – not only are they super high on the glycemic index (which means they produce insulin, just like sugar does) but they are cooked in crappy, altered, incredibly bad for your heart and artery’s, vegetable oil or canola or whatever oil is the cheapest.   A double whammy of unhealthy… bad fats and MORE SUGAR!  The Chili Cheese Fries? Look at the ingredients in the chili.  The beans are loaded with carbs themselves (which turn to sugar in your system) and I’ll bet you find added sugar in the canned chili.  The cheese, yeah I’m sure that’s got healthy natural saturate fat – NOT! That cheese is loaded with added sugar and crappy oils… another double whammy to the old heart and artery’s.  The potato’s that are smothered in that yummy chili and fake cheese – yep – sugar spike to the system.  Same story with the Nacho’s.  The chips – carbs (bloodsugar spike) AND added sugars, the cheese – you get the idea. It’s good that this kid thinks this crappy food is unhealthy, but his use of the word “fatty” (or whatever fat related word he used) is a real problem.  It’s clear he doesn’t understand WHY THAT FOOD IS BAD.  He still think’s it’s because of the fat!

The show fails to show us a healthy food pyramid – and their lack of relating carbs with sugar makes me wonder who funded this film.  To top it off, after vilifying sugar for 1 1/2 hours – they show a lunch box at the end, where they take out the soda and replace it with water.  Guess what else was in that lunch box?  A sandwich and fruit! Way to go Fed Up, you just finished telling us that sugar is bad and causing childhood obesity, and your solution is to give them two slices of bread sugar, with some fruit sugar on the side!  This is probably after they had a bowl of “healthy” whole grain cereal sugar for breakfast, some fruit sugar for a snack, and after school they will go home and have some spaghetti sugar with a nice healthy salad on the side.

Overall, the movie is worth watching, but I would wait until it’s on Netflix and I want my $17 back that I spent on tickets for my son and myself.  The reason I went to see this movie, and took my 13 year old son, is that I wanted my son to walk away with the message that sugars (all sugars) are bad, but the way the information in this movie was presented bored him to death and I doubt he learned anything.  If you are trying to help kids understand that sugar is bad, why not make a movie that covers all sugars (breads and fruits included) and present it in a way that captures the attention of 12 years olds?

Lastly, I am deeply saddened by the missed opportunity this movie had to show that the popcorn and snacks everyone (ironically, mostly overweight people) in the theater were munching on, are just as bad because those carbs turn to sugar.  Anyone who was in the theater, with any snack they bough at the concession stand, should have walked away feeling guilty for eating that snack. Instead, they walked away just as clueless as they were when they walked in.  #EpicFailure

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