Better Off Well


Fed Up With Fake Food: Review of New Documentary

fed up two

Last night I drove to Cambridge with like-minded parent friends and our kiddos. We'd both read and heard about the latest documentary, Fed Up, and how powerful it was. We weren't disappointed.

Leave it to two women to create a movie that has the potential to save thousands of lives.

Fed Up comes out swinging and it hits hard. Producers Katie Couric and Laurie David go after not only the food industry, but our own government.

Why should we be Fed Up?

Because the food we are eating is literally killing us and our children. It's a slow, chronic kind of death being extended through the aid of pharmaceutical drugs, but quality of life for people in our country is declining. And quickly.

According to statistics cited in the movie, if our eating patterns continue as they are, in as early as two decades from now, 95% of the American population will be overweight or obese and one out of three will have Type II Diabetes. Yep. Almost everyone.

Including our kids.

The movie checks in with four kids, all 14 and under, and all obese.

Brody is 15 and at 215 lbs, he understands what he must do to lose weight. The southern fried foods, the cookies and pastries, and the processed stuff are making him big. He gets it. But he sees his younger brother eating the same foods and not gaining weight, so he gives up. Again and again.

At 12, Maggie weighs in at 212 lbs. Her doctor told her to join Weight Watchers, but she is too young. She tries to eat "healthy" by eating low-fat food and cereal. At school, we see her ordering a cheeseburger on McDonald's Day. There's also Pizza Hut Day and Taco Bell Day. Every. Week.

Many schools around the country have active fast-food restaurants right in the cafeteria.

"The schools have become dependent on the money, and it's a bargain with a devil," says Kelly D. Brownell, Dean of Public Policy for Duke University, in the film. "Some schools have become 7-11 with books."

Wesley is 13 and at 180 lbs, his mother is trying to help him lose weight by purchasing "lean" Hot Pockets for his lunch.

Joe is 14 and the biggest at nearly 400 pounds. He reluctantly signs on for gastric bypass surgery as a way to save his life. Joe is afraid he may not live to see his 20th birthday.

Perhaps most infuriating is that the government has known about the disease link to diet since 1977, when the McGovern report was released. George McGovern was a senator from South Dakota who, as head of the Senate Select Committee on Human and Nutrition Needs, released the 1977 Dietary Goals for the United States. The report recommended a higher intake of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes and a reduction in sugar and animal products.

The hope was that this report would do for America's health what the Surgeon General's report on tobacco had done a decade before.

The food industry went ballistic.

They fought back by hiring medical experts and lobbyists, launching huge ad campaigns, and financing any research that favored their products.

They won.

Today Americans consume even more calories, animal products, sugar, and oils than forty years ago when the report was published. We're getting bigger and sicker.

Americans lost.

Fed Up also addresses our addiction to sugar. The World Health Organization and the American Heart Association recommend the average adult take in no more than 6-9 tsp of added sugar per day.

4 g = 1 tsp

The average American takes in more than that with breakfast, and more than four times that over a day.

Bigger questions are raised during the movie, and those are the ones I've been asking, too.

What happens in the future when firefighters, police officers, and military personnel are too unhealthy to protect us anymore?

What happens to our country when next generations do not have the energy, creativity, and innovation that will be required to deal with climate change and other world security issues?

More alarming statistics from the movie... * 75% of our national health care budget goes toward metabolic chronic disease

* 80% of public schools have deals with Coke or Pepsi

* Up to 40% of non-obese people are still metabolically fat, or "skinny-fat"

* Health insurance companies buy stock in fast food companies

* The FDA has less power to control marketing to kids than it does to adults

* In 1981, the Reagan administration made drastic cuts to the school lunch program, forcing many schools to get rid of their ovens and turn to frozen, processed foods

This is shocking and disappointing and sad and frustrating and it kills me sometimes to hear it. But we HAVE to hear it. We can't keep tuning out. The health of our kids depends on us having the courage to speak UP.

As parents and caregivers, we are powerful. The most effective change always starts with the people.

Write to your politicians to let them know you care about this stuff.

fed up

Vote with your wallets and buy foods without crap.

Start making more meals at home.

Talk to your friends. Don't be afraid to let them know what you've learned.

Get your kids involved in the conversation.

SEE this movie.