Yesterday my daughter and I saw the documentary Fed Up. Katie Couric narrates this 92-minute movie that takes direct aim at the food industry and congress and in the process educates the viewers on the dangers of sugar. What do we know about food, exercise and obesity? Walking into the movie, I already knew that obesity is on the rise. As a teacher and mother, I know that children in great numbers are being affected by the amount of unhealthy food choices that they are surrounded by every single day.
We have all been told, “Calories in, calories out. That losing weight is as simple as calories in calories out. Overweight people simply need to eat less and exercise more.” According to Coca-Cola, a calorie is a calorie. This documentary, in the style of a well-made 60 minutes episode, takes issue with this. A calorie is not a calorie when a calorie is sugar.I know sugar is not a healthy choice, but honestly I have never looked at sugar as the poison that this movie showed it to be. The primary problem is that sugar is in everything! This movie follows four children (ages 14 – 17) that are struggling with their weight. It was heartbreaking to watch these young children struggle with their weight and health issues. But it is maddening to see the large food corporations and congress work together to categorize pizza as a vegetable so they can keep it in school cafeterias everywhere.Sugar is addicting. I struggle with sugar cravings, and when life gets stressful I crave the sweet stuff all the more. As addicting as I know sugar to be, I was surprised when they compared sugar to cocaine. When mice where given the choice between sugar water and cocaine water, 40 of the 43 mice preferred the sugar water. That is powerful!
Food corporations put sugar in every processed food from cereals to crackers, to salad dressings, to peanut butter, to soups – I’m not just talking about cookies, ice cream, and cakes – I am taking about virtually every packaged food item in the grocery store. With this being the case, it becomes very challenging to get added sugar out of our diet. But looking at the increasing diabetes that Fed Up chronicles, it becomes crystal clear how important it is to change the way we prepare food, to change the way we eat.
Our children will be the first generation to have shorter life spans than their parents. 17% of children are obese. In 1980 the number of children diagnosed with type-2 diabetes was zero; thirty years later the number of children diagnosed with type-2 diabetes was 57,638. Children. Our children. Yes, collectively they are our children. When we allow school cafeterias to look like a fast food court we can only blame adults.As the movie points out there is no amount of exercise that can combat the results of a sugar addiction. Simply because a calorie is not a calorie. This documentary does a good job showing the vast differences in how your body processes 140 calories of almonds versus 140 calories of a soda. No, a calorie is not a calorie!
The movie is meant to not only educate the audience members but to get people mad enough to take action. The first step they offer is to take up the Fed Up Challenge and to get added sugar out of your diet for 10 days. I am taking on this challenge. I know that is will be hard because I am a shopper that reads food labels. I already know how hard it is to find foods without added sugar. As a mother I do use packaged foods. I make my children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; my kids will dip their vegetables in ranch dressing. I have been on the hunt for years to find lower sugar options, and I can tell you it is not easy. But I am up for this challenge.
The Fed Up challenge is a personal challenge. As a society can we take this one step further? Can we make a difference when it comes to congress and the large food corporations? I would like to think that we could make a difference. To start I believe this is a movie that many more people need to see!