Published May 08, 2014Sugar causes cancer. That's the main takeaway from Fed Up, the new documentary from Stephanie Soechtig (bottled water exposé Tapped) that attempts to uncover the grave injustices perpetrated by the American food industry on its country's diet-crazed consumers.
Narrated by American television journalist Katie Couric, the film starts off with a simple history lesson: Back in the early-1980s, Couric (then an unheard of anchor) reported on her nation's growing waistlines in a short news clip. Over 30 years and thousands of diet fads later, the number of stories kept increasing, as did her fellow Americans' chances of dying from heart disease, cancer and complications related to diabetes.
The culprit? Sugar, and lots of it, that has been steadily packed into mass-produced products claiming to be good for your health for over three decades.
Told in an unfolding narrative from the perspective of four pre-teens and teenagers ranging from mildly overweight to morbidly obese, as well as a slew of scientists and food industry critics (including intellectual foodie Michael Pollan and former President Bill Clinton) looking to shed light on the food industry's murky tactics, Fed Up showcases a country's unending attempts to stay thin and the reasons they consistently can't.
For most educated viewers, Fed Up won't exactly teach you anything you haven't already learned before from reading The China Study or watching Food, Inc., but what separates Fed Up from other likeminded exposés is its ability to show just how far the food industry has gone to deceive its consumers. Whether it's lobbying for the removal of the daily value of sugar per serving on processed food packets, adding sweeteners to weight loss products to make them less satisfying and more addictive, or using the same tactics used by the tobacco industry to roadblock any real change from occurring at a federal level, it appears the American food industry's skulduggery knows no bounds.
For a film whose target audience is small-l liberals and their ilk, Fed Up is surprisingly critical of the Obama administration, spending a large chunk of the documentary's latter half dissecting Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign and its steady shift away from government lobbying to simply promoting healthy living by telling children to "eat less" and "exercise more" (a strategy that — thanks to sugar-laced meals — is proven throughout the documentary to be ineffective).
However, no matter where your political allegiances lie, one thing is for certain: This is a nationwide (and increasingly worldwide) problem that demands the utmost attention.