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Fed Up

I’ve seen a lot of documentaries over the years, and I’ve learned to take them with a grain of salt: films have the ability to be extremely persuasive, but that’s a power that can be used to deceive as well as to educate.

That said, I would limit the audience that should make a point of seeing Fed Up to a particular interest group: people who eat food. And if you’re someone who makes food choices for other people, particularly children, you should absolutely see it. (It’s a pity that it’s presently only playing in Williamsville, but it’s worth the trip.)

It’s no secret that obesity is rampant in America. It’s been on the rise since the late 1970s. According to statistics cited here, in two more decades 95% of Americans will be overweight or obese; by 2050 one in three of us will be diabetic.

What’s the cause of this? Probably sugar. We consume enormous amounts of it, much of it without knowing it because of the way it’s hidden in foods where we don’t suspect it. It is addictive (more so than cocaine, according to some studies). And its harmful effects are being kept quiet by food industry lobbyists, who have gotten very good at crying “Nanny state!” everytime the government tries to regulate them.

They may not be much in Fed Up, which is narrated by Katie Couric and produced by Laurie David (An Inconvenient Truth) that you haven’t heard before. But it puts a lot of information together in a presentation that packs an awfully strong punch.

And it does something very canny: it focuses on children, the vanguard of food-based illnesses. Thirty years ago Type 2 diabetes was more generally known as “adult onset diabetes” because children never develop it. Now thousands of children suffer from it.

Fed Up features a quartet of obese adolescents. Through their examples, the film shows what a stacked deck they’re up against. Exercise doesn’t help them; neither does eating reduced portions. All those do is make them feel even worse about themselves.

Eating healthy is not an easy thing to do in a market so overwhelmingly dominated by processed food. But Fed Up is an effective polemic to get you to stop buying take-out and start preparing your own meals. Is all of the information in here accurate? I don’t know. It’s persuasively presented, and if clear contrary arguments can be made then let’s hear them. But it’s not an issue that can be ignored.

Watch the trailer for Fed Up

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