One of the positives to running your own business is that you can decide on a raining day that it’s imperative to go to the movies. In our case, we were lucky that it was also research. Pam and I went to see the new food documentary, Fed Up and while we joked about wanting to bring a diet Coke and popcorn into the theater, 5 minutes into the movie, we stopped all joking as the severity of the obesity epidemic took away our sense of humors.
It’s important to note that, like many documentaries, there is an apparent agenda with this one and it’s pretty one-sided. Demonizing sugar and the food companies that sell it is top priority and that is clear from the fact that more than two of the guest speakers also have books on the subject and there was no interviewing of people that have opposing views. Interestingly, there was no representation from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics which would usually present a somewhat unbiased point of view. Luckily, it’s a one-sided point of view that Pam and I can get behind so we were hooked within two minutes and wanted to see more.
There are a few immediate glaring issues displayed in the movie. 1. childhood obesity is scary. It is on the rise and has little chance of slowing down if something isn’t done. 2. The government and food companies are shady. (This will not be a political post but it is impossible to see this movie and not have an opinion on this). 3. All calories are NOT the same. And oh 4. sugar is the devil. No big deal.
Ok, so that is a lot of information so let me try to break it down a bit. We all probably know that childhood obesity is on the rise and type 2 diabetes is a growing problem. This movie just makes that more clear. It gives you alarming statistics. It informs the viewers that it is only getting worse. And most importantly, what we are doing, is not helping. It also follows the lives of three overweight/obese young kids. Now some of these kids aren’t even teenagers yet and they are dangerously overweight. And it’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking to hear their desperation in their voices and so hard to watch their parents try to do their best but often fall short due to lack of education and/or the current food supply in grocery stores.
Now this brings me to the government and food companies part in this obesity epidemic and I’m going to keep this short as I am not using this as a platform to run for Congress. The information we get, as consumers, is manufactured. We know this. But this movie makes it abundantly clear that the health information, the daily nutrition guidelines, the food pyramid, basically all information we know of that helps dictate how we choose to eat, is manufactured. And unfortunately, as consumers, it is not in our favor. When guidelines were released with a recommendation of how many fruits and vegetables we should eat, Congress declared pizza a vegetable so it can get away with serving it at schools and still meet the recommended guidelines.
All calories are not the same. Say it again. All calories are not the same. Eating from fruit is not the same as eating the same amount of fat free pudding, even if its both 90 calories. Your body digests it differently, your body stores it differently: basically one can still cause you to gain weight more than the other. This is often neglected. We are bombarded by low calorie snacks and fat free everything. This “food” is so processed that is often has little to no nutritional value yet because it is low in calories or low in fat, people choose it. And this happens often. Grocery aisle after aisle is full of products that sure, are somehow only 90 calories, but it’s unclear what exactly is in it, what good it is doing for you and most importantly, what long term damage it is also doing for you.
As far as the whole sugar is the devil thing, you’ll need to see the movie for all the information on this as it’s alarming, eye opening and downright scary.
Take home message, eat clean whole foods. Stick to the perimeters of the grocery stores to buy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts/seeds. Read labels and don’t always believe what the box says. Does this advice sound familiar?, says the nutritionist who says this advice in her sleep:)
And go see the movie!