*** out of **** Stars
A few months back, I did some personal research at my local theater after purchasing a small coke before a movie. What I was handed was not small at all, but an enormous, disposable goblet weighing in at a gluttonous 32 oz. That’s almost three cans of coke – it wouldn’t even fit in any of my car’s cup holders. I returned to the theater a week later and, to satisfy my curiosity, convinced a friend to split a large soft drink with me. We received a gut-busting, King Kong cup of cola the kiosk’s nutritional facts chart estimated to be as much as 1,100 calories (nearly that of 8 cans of coke).
I open with this anecdote because in Fed Up – a vicious indictment of the role sugar consumption plays in the obesity epidemic – soda is branded the “cigarettes of the 21st Century.” Ironic that viewers receive this insight halfway through their concessions...it’s like a drug dealer warning, “Careful, that stuff will kill you,” just before you OD and start foaming at the mouth.
Like every good summer movie, Fed Up has formidable villains: primarily, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The documentary details an exhaustive list of instances when these organizations acted to preserve the profits of the beef, dairy and agriculture industries at the expense of the American consumer. Some claims, such as lobbyists burying Michelle Obama’s ”Let’s Move” campaign, are still on the tips of the tongues of political pundits. However, did you know that French fries and pizza count as servings of fruits and vegetable in public schools? WTF!
Fed Up puts an emotional face to the sugar epidemic’s victims, including a 15-year-old who undergoes bypass surgery in an attempt to save his life. Many times, the victims don’t understand why they can’t loose weight. It seems all too often society places the blame on the person in this instance. However, having worked in healthcare and assisted with community outreach seminars prior to Where Y’at, I can tell you it is heart breaking how little health knowledge some people have, particularly in less educated, low-income areas. If there is one topic I wished was addressed in Fed Up, though a bit broad for its focus, it is a call for a stronger public campaign for personal health and preventative care education as a whole. This alone could make a huge dent in the escalating treatment costs the film references.
Another area I wished was touched on more is the role exercise plays in preventative care. More research is coming forward that proves that regular physical activity is even more important than diet in preventing metabolic diseases. While the film provides some enjoyable illustrations, such as how long you would need to swim to burn the calories in a medium fry from McDonalds, it neglects exercise as a major part of the equation in answering this problem.
Fed Up servers some healthy food for thought. However, as with any documentary, it’s dense with information in defense of its hypothesis, and most certainly contains some hyperbole (I find it hard to believe in 20 years more than 95% of the population will be obese). Think of it like a cinematic Wikipedia page – rich with knowledge, but you should do your own homework before coming to any conclusions.