“Fed Up”: Stephanie Soechtig’s Documentary About Sugar Addiction

Not only does sugar convert directly into fat, it’s also addictive: Tests on cocaine-addled rats revealed that the junkie rodents gave up their drug of choice for a hit of sugar. It is the dietetic opium of the people, pushed by a powerful industry that manipulates facts, consumers, and politicians to make profits. Peter Keough, Boston Globe, reviewing Fed Up

Jonathan Kim, The Huffington Postsets up the opening to the new documentary Fed Up, directed by Stephanie Soechtig:

Fed Up, which is executive produced and narrated by Katie Couric, begins much like a horror movie, as a montage of TV news anchors breathlessly describe a lethal affliction infecting millions of Americans across the country, sowing illness and death for increasing numbers of men, women, and children. This scourge, of course, is obesity-related illness, which has been found to be more deadly than smoking, drinking, or even poverty. After a brief history of Americans’ expanding girth and past failed efforts to combat it (the low-fat craze), the indisputable culprit is identified: sugar. Or, more accurately, sugar + processed food makers. Or, even more accurately, sugar + processed food makers + a US government bought off by the big food and sugar industries.

Watch the trailer:

But sugar comes in so many forms—are all of them bad? Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post: “According to the film, added sugar, in all forms — including not just the demonized high-fructose corn syrup, but also more natural-sounding throwbacks such as “pure” cane sugar — is almost single-handedly responsible for what one interview subject calls the obesity tsunami sweeping the nation, as well as the sharp rise in diabetes.”

So, then, added sugar of all types is the real problem. Well, O’Sullivan continues: “…(T)he real problem isn’t sugar, but sugar education. If consumers only knew that the stuff is not just addictive, but poisonous — one of the film’s experts calls it a ‘chronic, dose-dependent’ liver toxin — they might make better choices at the checkout counter.”

Children are deemed the most vulnerable. Robert Cameron Fowler, IndieWire: “The film is strongest in its takedown of how Big Food markets to kids. (You don’t see any cartoon tigers talking about how the merits of grapes.) The PR sector of the food industries come off especially bad in footage of them shamelessly defending their focus on children as young as infants, the most outrageous being a McDonald’s spokeswoman arguing to Congress about the magic and wonder of Ronald McDonald as if he were Santa Claus.”

Peter Keough, Boston Globe, believes, though, that some important points are omitted in this film. One example: “A comparison between health club memberships and obesity rates, implying a cause-and-effect relationship, sounds specious. And when the film blames the obesity of young people almost entirely on the food industry, it overlooks such factors as the prevalent, sedentary culture of video games and social media.”

On the other hand, Jonathan KimThe Huffington Postsays that some of Fed Up’s content, especially the children’s stories, left a meaningful impact on him: “It’s these kids that can help a previously unsympathetic person like myself understand that the greatest impediment to a healthy life in America isn’t laziness, denial, or ignorance, but trusting that the processed food corporations that are killing us will also make us healthy.”

One thought on ““Fed Up”: Stephanie Soechtig’s Documentary About Sugar Addiction

  1. Great post. Thanks for the reminder that moderation is the key. I, too, will try doing the “toxic.toxic.toxic” mantra whenever I pass by Starbucks and crave that iced mocha I so easily became addicted to!

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