It is rare for a film to truly make you enraged. It is rarer still - nearly impossible these days it seems - to come across a movie that leads to real social and political change. Fed Up (opening today) aspires to do both. It's a new documentary that also is a call to action in regards to our nation's obesity and food problems. It made me truly enraged. Time will tell if our nation is ready for some real change.
Co-produced and narrated by Katie Couric, Fed Up attempts to change the way America thinks about food and consumption. Forget what you think you know, it tells us.
We've all been "fed" what, as a nation, we now believe to be true: That losing or gaining weight is a simple mathematical equation. If you take in less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Well forget that.
All calories are not created equal. 160 calories of, say, almonds, is not processed by your body in the same way 160 calories of soda is. It tells us that the real culprit of obesity and weight gain is sugar content and processed foods. Our bodies simply can't handle the intake of such substances without turning that sugar into fat.
But Fed Up is much more than a lecture on healthy eating. It blatantly defines a conspiracy.
Writing this review, I feel compelled to relay the several amazing, mind-blowing truths that the film delivers. I will tell you that in lab rats, sugar has been proven to be more addictive than even cocaine. I will also share with you that many "low calorie" or "light" options on your grocery store shelves might as well say the truth, which is that they contain "twice the sugar." I then can't help but point out to you that on every nutritional label on every piece of food and drink in America, a percentage of the FDA's recommended daily recommended allowance is listed...for all categories except sugar. Yes, that's because the sugar lobby has prevented sugar as being listed in such a way. Many countries recommended a 10% of total caloric intake come from sugar. That wouldn't bode so well for sugar companies then, if a single 16-ounce soda actually came in at over 100% of that recommendation.
But let's stop there with the valuable, life-saving nuggets of information. Fed Up goes on to profile several obese teenagers to show us first-hand where we've come as a country and how being overweight isn't a choice for many. We see the whole "not all calories are created equal" argument given faces. School lunch programs are analyzed for what they are: Entry-level ways for corporations to get young people addicted to their product, with little choice for healthier alternatives.
Many who are blessed with amazing metabolisms may argue that fitness is a matter of will power. Tell that to the young, obese teenager in the film, who is on a consistent diet and who is more active than most other teenagers her own age, yet she weighs in at over 200 pounds. The experts in the film tell us to forget the whole "will power" argument too. Mind = blown.
This doc expertly crafts its argument and paints another very depressing picture of what our country has devolved into: A society where the corporate dollar is much more valuable than any moral talking point. Where corporations with powerful lobbies control the world. Where even our First Lady, Michelle Obama, can be influenced by elitist greed. Movies like this infuse most with a sense of real helplessness, but heck, the first step to change is admitting we have a problem.
Fed Up compares the current state of the food industry with that of the tobacco industry about 20 years back. Today, it is very hard to imagine how much a part of our lives cigarettes were and how hard Big Tobacco fought against admitting their product was harmful. Fed Up muses that we will look back on our current time - where food is not properly labeled, where added sugar is commonplace and where obesity reigns supreme - and give a sad chuckle, much like we do when we are shown old ads of Fred and Wilma Flintstone peddling Newports.
Of course, for every cause there is a group of people who don't believe or who fight against it. Take a look at the list given at the end of this film, of those who were approached for interviews but who declined. There you will find a nearly complete list of corporate culprits purposely looking the other way while we watch our country literally eat itself to death. I can only speak for myself, but if someone was going to make a documentary about me that wasn't true, I would fight vehemently to defend myself. Why then, Coca-Cola and countless others, do you deny your moral obligation to keep people healthy?
It may be over-stating it to say that you should go see Fed Up, because it just might save your life. But I'm saying it.
Run Time: 1 hours, 32 minutes, Rated PG
Featuring: Katie Couric, Bill Clinton
Co-Written & Directed by Stephanie Soechtig (Tapped)
Opens locally on Friday, May 9, 2014 (check for show times).
Be sure to watch Tom Santilli on TV! Check your local listings for “Movie Show Plus” for Tom’s weekly movie review segment, airing at 10:30 p.m. EST every Sunday, on MYTV20 in Detroit.
How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"
- 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
- 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
- 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
- 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
- 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time