The statistics are chilling: Two out of three Americans are obese, and that includes children. In 2010, there were over 57,000 teens with diabetes, and by 2050, a third of all Americans will have the disease. And that’s not the only health issue affecting young people like never before. Strokes and heart disease are skyrocketing.
Studies indicate this generation will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Why is this happening? The new documentary “Fed Up” endeavors to explain — and the answer has nothing to do with genetics.
Contrary to the widely held beliefs that exercise offsets calorie consumption and reduced calorie foods are healthy, the film blames the pervasive, addictive omnipresence of sugar for the obesity epidemic, and explains how the government and food industry are complicit. Driving the point home: Interviews with experts, personal profiles, graphics and animations, and cited studies such as one that indicated 40 of 43 lab rats chose sugar over cocaine.
It’s powerfully and clearly stated, and it all started with Katie Couric, who narrates the documentary. She wanted to do something about the alarming growth in childhood obesity and asked Stephanie Soechtig to be involved after interviewing the director about her 2009 bottled water exposé “Tapped.” Laurie David (pictured right), who produced “An Inconvenient Truth,” joined them on the producing team.
This one was squarely in David's wheelhouse, as she often writes about food topics.
"The food we are eating and the drinks we are drinking are literally making us sick and fat," David says. "We have an explosion of diabetes among children and it’s time we have an honest conversation about what’s causing that."
The project was started to examine the truth behind the idea that our weight problem boils down to calories in and calories out, David explains. And some of the findings surprised her.
"One of the more shocking revelations is the fact that the American government and food industry knew 30 years ago that the American diet was going off the rails," she says. "We wanted to start a meaningful dialogue but the food and beverage industry refused to participate.”
Meanwhile, David is flabbergasted by the more recent news that the federal government wants to pull back on adding more fruits and vegetables and whole grain food to school lunches, claiming that kids won’t eat them and they’ll go to waste.
“It’s not up to the kids to decide what’s healthy for them. That’s our job," she says. "Part of the problem is the fact that kids' palates have been corrupted by processed foods and we have to retrain their palates." People give up too soon, Davis explains, because it can take 10 tries or more for kids' palates to like a new taste.
Finding a solution
“First and foremost, people need to start cooking again," David says. Her new book, “The Family Cooks,” sends the message that delicious, real food doesn't have to be complicated.
Ultimately, David wants change across the board, from the grocery store to office break rooms — and especially with regard to children.
"School lunch should be made fresh on the premises every day. Our children deserve that respect," she says. "On the government level, we need truth in labeling and we need to regulate marketing to innocent children.”
Despite the daunting statistics, David is optimistic. "I think people are getting fed up with the misinformation, confusion and lies," she says.
David challenges those who are impacted by the documentary to take the "Fed Up Challenge" and quit eating sugar for 10 days. To join the challenge and learn more about the documentary, visit fedupmovie.com.
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