A year ago, my family and I were once walking in the city of Hollywood where suddenly three women excitedly approached my parents and asked if we wanted to be in a Coco Cola commercial. Figuratively, my sisters and I were thrilled–how couldn’t we be?! We had a chance to be seen on television by millions!–but my parents just had to be so camera shy and caught up in my little sister’s fencing tournament they turned down the offer. I remained pretty bitter about that moment since, but it would’ve been weird endorsing a beverage I can’t stand to drink at all.
A few days ago I got a chance to watch the documentary Fed Up, which centers upon the history of the American food industry’s product manufacturing to consumers, specifically to younger children, and how it secretly keeps the obesity epidemic rolling despite advances in dietary guidelines, scientific discoveries and medicine to improve health care. Since watching this documentary, my perspective on the obesity epidemic literally reversed. Ronald McDonald no longer looks like the happy clown that wants to befriend little kids (not like I ever thought he looked approachable anyway–eek! Clowns!). Cereal boxes no longer seem to be the boxes of joy and rainbows. Coco cola commercials appear to be so much more than advertising the soda. Take a look at the Pop tarts a little kid had for breakfast, cheeseburger with french fries, cake and orange juice for lunch, Special K bars and fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt for a snack, conventional pasta with artificially sweetened pasta sauce and grain-fed meatballs for dinner and fat free but chemical-loaded ice cream for dessert. You realize………..we all live in a messed up lie.
It broke my heart, it made me cry, and it disturbed me so extremely. Not that I never knew the food marketing was completely whacked up, but the documentary was such a huge eye-opener. It was so weird to find out that even though the global amount of fitness club members increased, so did obesity rates, but it all makes sense when the industries promote this ugly perception of obesity as a worthless and indulgent laughing stock.
It’s heart-wrenching that these obese children torment themselves with low fat goods and sports to try and make do and see their progress worsen; same goes with their loved ones watching them suffer and paying for their surgeries. Oh yeah, and the kids get laughed at and stereotyped the whole way through. One boy’s mother recalled her son jumping up and down for a few girls just to laugh at him and watch his body fat jiggle. Society just wants to pose this one horrible belief: Fat people are lazy, unambitious and have no willpower.
These companies use bright colors, cartoon characters, happy music, yadda yadda yadda to seduce little kids to want their food, eat it and become addicted. I was one of those little prisoners that lived on boxed mac n’ cheese, ketchup-soaked fries and Frosted Flakes. In fact my parents remember me screaming with joy whenever we’d drive past McDonalds (oh the irony). So the best solution is to do the same with carrots, apples and sweet potatoes?
The problem is that fruits and vegetables don’t have the same “additive” that makes their consumers hungry for more. Added sugar is viewed as one of the most chronic and deadly toxins existed. The documentary included a study with groups of mice choosing between sugar water or cocaine, and the majority choosing the sugar water. In 1961, the Flintstones launched a cig commercial. In 1971, they marketed Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles. Coincidence, much?
Some of the responses by the authorities were so shocking to take in. In one part, Ph. D David Allison of the UAB School of Public Health argues that there’s not enough evidence to show that sugary beverages are the main cause of obesity and even staggers to explain why. Later Bill Clinton claims the administrations took public efforts to improve exercise and cafeteria requirements but apparently thought obesity was too little of a matter for them to really care about at the time. Hello, we’re talking about the lives of millions of people, but nope. Apparently, money is just too important (But I do appreciate his open-mindedness to Buddhist principles. Yay Bill!).
I completely agreed with many of the important factors the documentary pointed out. Obesity is more than genetics. It is deadly and the victims become younger and younger. If this was happening in another country America would take action to terminate it. It’s frightening that our generation is being shoved these products. Because in all refined sugar is just as dangerous as drugs, if not more. Fed Up definitely makes that evident. While the movie does highlights the hopeful efforts of making healthier choices and the resulting weight losses of the children, many eventually gain the weight back and go back to their unhealthy habits. Unfortunately, it happens to be true that not everyone has the money or the capacity to evade added sugar completely.
To wrap this up, the main pros of this movie is honesty, thoughtful insight and strongly supported arguments: not all calories are created equal (ex: effects of blood sugar on almonds versus soda). Lack of effort to make healthier choices isn’t all based on little willpower. The government does not rule the country, corporations do. Sugar is just as bad if not worse of a drug than cocaine. Cons? If you’re looking for a happy, hopeful and romantic movie, Fed Up isn’t for you. It is upfront and depressing, just how the obesity epidemic is in reality.
So you know what? I am very grateful my family and I were not on that Coca-Cola commercial. Know why? I would be marching for a force I don’t support. If an almond butter company were to ever reach me, then that’s a whole different story! Anyways, I hope this review was helpful for those of you who want to watch this film. Hands down it is one of the greatest health documentaries ever made. It reveals the truth behind everything. Food and medicine are apparently marketed as two different fields, when in reality, food serves as the more effective medicine.
P.S. Fed Up created a detox challenge where you give up all sources of added sugars for 10 days, even the sweeteners deemed healthy. Not nearly as extreme as the Whole30 or Meatless (vegan or vegetarian) challenge–just quit added sugar! You can find the full list of hidden sugars in the challenge link below (hint: honey is one of them!). I highly recommend you try it. It will definitely enforce you to buy less labeled foods, cook at home and eat more variety of produce. Plus you are guaranteed a difference in energy and health within 1-2 days!
Challenge: http://fedupmovie.com/#/page/fedupchallenge (Dr. Mark Hyman is one of its sources!)