Our food is killing us. Not all food, but almost everything we buy in the grocery store that is not a vegetable or a piece of fruit. That’s the message of Fed Up, the new documentary from Katie Couric, Laurie David and director Stephanie Soechtig. The reason has to do with politics. The filmmakers go back to 1977, when a Senate group sometimes known as the McGovern Committee released America’s first dietary guidelines. These included reducing sugar and fat intake, but thanks to some heavy lobbying from the sugar industry, the sweets warnings were removed. The result? Manufacturers pulled fat out of their products, and added sugar.
Now more than 600,000 items sold in grocery stores come with added sugar. And that added sugar is blamed for our country’s horrible rates of obesity, diabetes and a litany of other health problems. If that doesn’t scare you, consider this: You probably consume well over your recommended daily sugar intake in one sitting without knowing it. On nutrition labels, sugar percent daily values are left off. Go grab a bag of anything. You’ll see a percentage for fat, for carbs, for fiber and then a big blank space next to the sugar information. Just a serving of most orange juice actually has more than 100 percent of the sugar you should have in one day.
In addition to revealing eye-popping statistics (at the rate we’re going, 95 percent of Americans will be overweight in two decades), Fed Up follows three teenagers in their struggles against obesity. It proves almost impossible for them to find anything to eat that isn’t loaded up with sugar. Thanks to embarrassing government decisions like declaring pizza a vegetable in school lunchrooms, the kids can’t access healthier options. There’s something wrong when a 13-year-old exercises every day and can’t shed more than a pound or two.
Certainly Fed Up uses some scare tactics to try to convince you how Americans are being duped by powerful special interests, and the filmmakers probably didn’t need to include the slow-motion jiggle of Honey Boo Boo, but the facts rolled out over 90 minutes are disturbing. There is too much sugar in almost everything we eat and we have no idea it’s there.
The movie opens in select theaters May 9. If you have an interest in what you’ve been eating all these years, check out the trailer below.
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