The statistics are sobering and staggering. Over 95% of all Americans will become overweight or obese within the next two decades. By 2050, one out of every three Americans will have diabetes. This is the first generation of Americans expected to live shorter lives than their parents.
How did this happen? That’s what Fed Up, a recent documentary narrated by Katie Couric, dares to ask. You can now stream Fed Up if you have Netflix, and I highly recommend you put this riveting film in your queue.
Fed Up knows no easy answers exist for obesity, even if it calls out numerous culprits responsible for the epidemic. Corporate greed plays a significant role. So does politics.
Yet for the past 30 years, we’ve also been misled with the “eat less and exercise more” mantra. “The message has been pushed on us, ‘It’s your fault that you’re fat,’” says Dr. Mark Hyman.
But what if our whole approach to the obesity epidemic is dead wrong?
“There are 600,000 food items in America,” says Dr. Robert Lustig. “80% of them have added sugar.” That added sugar does more than add up around our waistlines; one study found sugar was eight times more addictive than cocaine.
Statistics, infographics, and interviews with notables including Gary Taubes and Bill Clinton as well as a few sugar apologists shape this film. My readers will recognize much of this information: Fed Up entertainingly, informatively gives viewers a lot to think about.
Yet what really grounds this documentary and gives it heart are the human-interest stories about adolescents who struggle with obesity.
Among them, you’ll meet Brady Kluge, a 15-year-old who weighs 215 pounds and has 47% body fat. Joe Lopez, a 14-year-old whose doctor eventually suggests bariatric surgery. And Maggie Valentine, who often sobs as she discusses her obesity struggle and the confusion it creates for this 12-year-old.
Equally confused are their parents, whose intentions are pure even when they (often) make incorrect food choices for them and their kids. Fed Up shows how the processed-food industry has overtaken our schools and homes but also the way we see food.
Therein lies the paradox. Contrary to the stereotype that obese people simply need to move more and eat less, these adolescents and their families are hardworking, intelligent people who’ve been misled by food corporations eager to put profit before health.
These adolescents exercise religiously, make “healthy” food choices, and remain proactive about losing weight and attaining optimal health. Yet tragically, they’re still overweight.
It’s heartbreaking, and not all of their stories resolve optimistically. I admire Fed Up for not trying to neatly end in a feel-good tone. At the same time, the documentary’s message that you have the power to make healthy eating choices becomes empowering and positive. You’re going to leave this documentary charged up.
Simple though this idea is, if enough people embody it, we can reverse the obesity epidemic. Much like cigarettes have become maligned over the past few decades, we can fight the junk-food industry and take back our kitchens to reduce our risk for obesity and disease.
Fed Up will move you, humor you, anger you, and inspire you. Yet it also contains the power to transcend those qualities and start a food revolution. For that reason alone, everyone needs to see this film. Stream Fed Up on Netflix.