“Fed up” Left Me Fed Up

“Fed Up” attempts to bring about change in the eating habits of Americans. The content of this film was predictable, but I gave it a chance. I hoped this movie would take a chance and actually make a statement. Instead it meandered on. Pontificating on politics and conspiracy theories about the “big food”.  While that information is relevant, I feel that focus caused a missed opportunity to answer the most important question for the viewer.  How do I eat better?  Continue reading to get my take on the film. 

Fed Up Left Me Fed up

Because of social media, we live in an era in which no one really has to do anything about anything.  We can get our fix in the “feeling like an activist” department, by posting complaints on Facebook.  Then all of our algorithmically selected friends can hem and haw in agreement with us.  We move on with our day. Anyone can get on a soap box with a friendly audience and verbally masturbate until they get tired. 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  I’m doing that right now

It’s easier than ever to be a crackpot conspiracy theorist.   “Fed Up” is catnip for those with that proclivity.  I’m sure the filmmakers hoped to impact it’s audience positively.  If that comes from becoming better educated in the area of nutrition, this movie missed the mark by a wide margin. When I watch films like this I try to see it from the perspective of a nutrition novice. I analyze how watching the movie would benefit me coming from a zero point.  A good example of a movie that hits the mark and actually informs it’s viewers, without ranting about politics excessively is “Hungry for Change”  

I’m Fed up With Political Drama Docs

“Fed Up” takes the typical approach you will see in documentaries about why our country is so fat and sick.  The basic premise is that the food companies are killing us. They have the government in their pockets.  Special interest groups influence government policy.  Who’s the victim in the end?  It’s the kids of course. The film objects to the fact that kids are marketed to from the day they are born.  Essentially they claim that should be illegal.  While that may be true, to spend 90 minutes complaining about it, I feel is misguided and a bit of a waste of time.  Especially if your interest is in educating the public on how to get healthier.  Apparently, that was not the intention of this film.

The bottom line is that it’s counter productive to expect the government and the companies that sell you food to tell you how to be healthy.  The companies do not care.  There objective is to make money.  The government isn’t some evil entity actively trying to poison it’s citizens in order to make sure corporations flourish.  The government is misguided by old, bad science.  Large ships take a long time to turn around.

What is more important than complaining about “cause” of the problem is empowering people with information. Then and only then can people start to actually make good decisions.  To fret about conspiracies, government subsidies for corn, soy and wheat and unscrupulous marketing practices will not help.  I’m sick of this rhetoric. These are extraneous distractions that only serve to infuriate, yet inevitably pacify the viewer.

Give me some science!

This movie is sparse at best on nutritional science. I remember seeing two massively simplified graphics about what happens to people when they eat sugar.  Something like as soon as you drink a can of soda it goes directly to fat, which is false.  The fructose insulin hypothesis is brought home pretty hard here as well.  “Fed up” also took the “bold” stance that a calorie is not a calorie. The used the comparison of 160 calories of almonds vs. 160 calories of soda.  Yawn.  Robert Lustig, who became famous when his lecture on Fructose: “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” went viral a couple of years ago, explained the concept simple enough for a two year old to understand.

Funny enough, I recommend watching his lecture in place of this film.  Both last 90 minutes.  Lustig brings ups some awesome points in that lecture. Some of his data is a bit fuzzy, but it’s great stuff.  Anyway, I digress. Lustig stated that almonds are better because they have fiber, therefore less impact on blood sugar.  What is ironic is that if you consume 160 calories from soda, which is about 40 grams of sugar, 20 of those come from fructose in High fructose corn syrup and the rest glucose.  What that means is that at least half of the sugar will not be processed directly to triglyceride (fructose) and the rest may or may not depending on the environments its entering.  For more on this refer to my post, “The skinny on carbohydrate part 2: Fructose.”  There will not be a tremendous insulin spike or an immediate synthesis of triglyceride.  As the volume of soda increases this starts to shift, but in the context of this example the analogy does not work vary well.  The viewer is further mislead, because taken out of the context of an entire meal this is an irrelevant concept.

Of course all calories are not created equal

A calorie is not a calorie, but the science is more complex. Blaming soda and juice it’s possible that things like bagels and bread will slide under the radar.  Oddly enough these items have potential to cause more harm.  They are generally perceived as healthy and they contain proteins many people have a hard time digesting.  This leads to inflammation, which increases increase in body fat.  Most people with eyeballs understand that mainlining sugar via a beverage is probably not a good call.  Why waste time hammering home that rhetoric yet again?  Bagels, breads, grains and most pasta actually have more potential for negative impact than soda.  None of which received any negative attention in this movie. Unless you back extrapolate that encouraging people to eat whole foods will discourage the ingesting of bagels and such.  The problem is most people won’t take that reasoning far enough to exclude bread items. If you are going to assault sugar in candy and soft drinks, you should assault carbohydrate as a whole. Total carbohydrate consumption, regardless of the source is the best predictor for chronic disease. There was not one mention of this in the film.

A calorie derived from an almond is indeed better than a soda calorie. A calorie is certainly not a calorie. The why is important.  Fed Up hesitates to go over the viewers head. peta dunia This leaves them where they started: clueless and helpless to change.

Don’t get me Wrong “Fed Up” is Actually a Good Movie

If you read this far, you must think I hated the movie. Quite the contrary actually. This film is well done, well produced and generally a pleasure to watch.  In most cases, in the aspects of the film that can be proven, they had their facts straight.  I recommend this movie nutrition novice.  For a novice, this movie may be helpful. This film left me feeling like it could have done a lot more.  They spent a tremendous amount of time discussing the governments role in propagating the obesity epidemic.  Here’s the thing: who gives a shit?!

It doesn’t matter, it’s the way it is.  Yes, awareness is good.  Lifting the vail is great. But we have to move, on if we ever hope to make any progress.  Let’s face it; It’s unfair, its a hypocrisy, it’s capitalism run amuck and it not going to change.  This health epidemic will turn around the moment society takes some personal responsibility for food choices.  The sooner we know what is best to feed the children of this nation, the sooner this thing will start to reverse.  I wish movies and others like this would focus more on what to do about that problem.  Rather they tend to focus on how or why it got so bad.

“Fed Up” spent too much time building a case for why things are wrong. “Fed up” ended with about five minutes covering that people should cut down added sugar intake and stick to whole foods.  Thanks.

 

“Fed Up” focused on factors that came together to create a massive problem. None of that matters any more.  What matters is the message of how to find the solution.  This film will help to raise awareness and might help some people wake up.  The question, “What do we do?” is still left unanswered.  I’m sorry, but to suggest to a person eating the standard american diet to “just buy whole foods” is flat out not enough.  “Fed Up” failed to deliver any functional information. For that reason, I am fed up with movies like this.