Promotional image from "Fed Up," a film about childhood obesity.
Back in the fall of 2012 when I interviewed Laurie David for a magazine feature about family dinner, she told me about her latest project. David, who was one of the producers for Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and wrote “The Family Dinner Book,” was excited about a movie she was working on with Katie Couric about childhood obesity and asked me to keep an eye out for it when it was finished. The movie is now finished, and “Fed Up,” premiered at Sundance earlier this week to sold-out crowds.
“Fed Up,” says the film’s website, “blows the lid off everything we thought we knew about food and weight loss, revealing a 30-year campaign by the food industry, aided by the U.S. government, to mislead and confuse the American public, resulting in one of the largest health epidemics in history.”
The film is already striking a nerve. When I did a Google search for “Fed Up the movie” the first website that was listed in the search was not the film’s website, but a paid ad by the Grocery Manufacturers Association that leads you to a page titled “GMA responds to Fed Up.”
On the page, the GMA outlines the efforts the organization has made over the past decade or so to combat obesity in America, including removing calories from foods and changing the way they promote products.
The GMA also mentions its support of Michelle Obama’s efforts to end childhood obesity through her Let’s Move! campaign. Politico reports that “Fed Up” does not praise Let’s Move’s results.
The creators contend the first lady’s Let’s Move! campaign has been co-opted by the food industry and crippled by lobbying, despite her good intentions.
Michelle Obama declined to be interviewed for the movie, but USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack appears in an interview done with Couric, as do former President Bill Clinton and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who waged his own war on obesity by trying to limit the size of soft drinks in the city.
David has said that people who have viewed the movie have told the makers of the film “that this movie has completely changed the way they look at what they’re eating.”
When the rest of us will get to see the film is still up in the air. There is no distributor yet, so a national release won’t be anytime soon. A good showing at Sundance, though, will certainly increase the film’s chances of getting picked up and distributed.
I will definitely be on the lookout for a chance to view “Fed Up.” If it has the GMA on the defensive already, when the film doesn’t even have a distributor, it’s struck a nerve.
You can watch the film’s director, Stephanie Soechtig, talk about how the subject matter of the film changed her in this “Meet the Artist’s” video from Sundance.
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