“This generation of children will lead shorter lifespans of their parents, sugar has been pumped into so many low fat foods, the USDA has an inherent conflict of interest when it comes to US agriculture and setting dietary guidelines, big food doesn’t necessarily want us to know what we are eating, labels don’t tell the whole story, marketing to children is basically coopting their brains and wiring them at a very early age and we can actually do something about all of these things.” – Katic Couric (1a)
Katie Couric journalist, author and talk-show host is executive producer of her recent documentary ‘Fed Up,’ directed written and produced by Stephanie Soechtig a documentary which illustrates how sugar is impacting the health and well-being of American society. America is not alone, with obesity rates in Australia tipping near 30%, 31% in New Zealand, Canada is pushing near 25%, in Europe 23% of women and 20% of men are obese. These figures do not include the percentage of overweight people within these countries which pushes these numbers significantly higher. In some cases the combined percentage of populations that are either overweight or obese is almost 70%. For example in the UK 67% of men and 57% of women are either overweight or obese. Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar website outlines some of the health risks of high sugar diets and has links to some of the studies and research undertaken around sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Some of these include: sugar ages the body and causes wrinkles, increased risk of heart disease, increasing the risk of cancer and sugar increases your risk of diabetes A retrospective, worldwide study found small increases in sugar can lead to significant increases in diabetes rates. The white stuff makes you fat, a meta-analysis study published in the British Medical Journal shows increased sugar intake is significantly associated with weight gain and an increased risk of obesity in children having just one sweetened drink per day.(1)
‘Fed Up’ premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year which suggested Sugar may be the New Cigarettes? Fed Up traces back the last 35 years and makes a convincing case that big business is to blame. (When isn’t it?) The food industry responded to the McGovern Report by flooding the grocery aisles with “healthy” chips, cookies, drinks and cereals that cut fat while quietly upping the sugar. Since then, sugar consumption has doubled. It’s not because we’re pounding down the pound cakes — a breakfast of orange juice and a bowl of processed cereal maxes out our ideal sugar intake for the rest of the day. Sugar increases insulin, insulin increases fat storage. And it’s addictive. In a study Soechtig quotes, 93 percent of lab rats chose sugar water over cocaine. At this rate, in twenty years, 95 percent of the population will be obese, a crisis that affects every aspect of our country’s stability from health care spending to national defense. A group of retired military leaders is so alarmed by our out-of-shape society that they’ve issued a warning study called “Too Fat to Fight.” At that point in the screening, the slender actresses to the right of me tsk-tsked, but then Fed Up dropped a bomb: 40 percent of thin people are also fat, their internal organs padded with enough damaging blubber that they may as well be clinically obese. Behold, our new national paranoia: TOFI, or Thin Outside, Fat Inside. (2)
“The Government is subsidizing the obesity epidemic.” – Michael Pollan
Fed Up shows how the first dietary guidelines issued by the U.S. government 30 years ago overlooked the role of dietary sugar in increasing risks of obesity, diabetes, and associated ill-health outcomes, particularly in children. Since these guidelines effectively condoned unlimited addition of sugar to foods consumed by children, sugar consumption has greatly increased, obesity has skyrocketed, and generations of children have grown up far fatter than their parents. These children face impaired health and shorter lifespans as a result. The film upends the conventional wisdom of why we gain weight and lays bare the misinformation put forth on how to lose it. It reveals that far more of the American public gets sick from what they eat than anyone realized. The film traces the history of processed foods adding dangerous levels of sugar and sweeteners to their roster of ingredients. (It began in the late 1970s with the rise of low-fat foods and has intensified since then.) Doctors bemoan the rise of adult-onset diabetes in young children, as well as children suffering strokes and heart attacks at a very young age, due to their excessive intake of sugar.(3)
“There are 600,000 food items in America, 80% of them have added sugar.” – Dr Robert Lustig
“Fed Up” is a mixture of in-the-life coverage and a roster of talking heads that include former President Bill Clinton. Soechtig spent two years with a group of kids, documenting their efforts to improve their health through dieting and exercise. The tragedy, her film argues, is that the pervasiveness of the food industry and the misinformation it disseminates has stacked all the odds against them. Personal responsibility and freedom of choice has always been Big Food’s counter to accusations of public endangerment, but if the American people has been so intricately misled, where is the personal freedom to make the right decision for one’s health? If “Fed Up” is persuasive and passionate enough in making its argument, it could lead to a huge difference in how we view healthy consumption. (4)
Country Obesity Statistics
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