Review: ‘Fed Up’


Brady Kluge, Fed Up

Brady Kluge is one of the teens profiled in the 2014 documentary “Fed Up.”

Review at a glance: The documentary “Fed Up” doesn’t necessarily offer up new info, but hammers home the message that sugar and processed foods are the true villains behind obesity and its ills. It succeeds on putting a human face on the daily struggle we all face in eating properly.

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I’ve made real food most of my diet for almost 8 years. I altered that diet significantly as part of my Project Bulk experiment.

Food isn’t just a passion but an ongoing area of learning, trial and error and education.

The new documentary “Fed Up” won’t tell you much if you’re already on to the food industry. But I suspect many haven’t dug as deeply.

Narrator Katie Couric teams up with director Stephanie Soechtig to lay out the case for the poisoning of America by Big Sugar. The mantra of supposed common sense, “Eat less and exercise more,” is undermined by two pillars presented. First, processed food is filled with sugar, which promotes addiction and increases calorie intake. Second, increased exercise can’t compensate for all the calories in the unhealthy modern diet.

The movie trots out some alarming statistics on diabetes and other nutrition-related diseases. And it spends significant time following children as they struggle with obesity, rejection, exercise and every bite they eat.

While I didn’t learn much I didn’t already know around the ongoing problems of junk food and soda or the influence of lobbyists and money on government standards, I did learn three important things:

David Allison, UAB, Fed Up

UAB’s David Allison is questioned in the documentary “Fed Up.”

1. The scientist who says there’s too little “solid evidence” that sugary sodas are contributing to the obesity epidemic? UAB’s own David Allison, who runs the Nutrition Obesity Research Center.

As ABC News reports, co-opting scientists with millions of dollars is a tactic successfully used for decades in shoring up Big Tobacco.

Oddly enough, the more research or “research” UAB conducts on obesity (such as this recent success in diabetes), the more money it pulls in which funds my hometown. Go Blazers?

Michelle Obama2. Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign has become a cynical exercise in … exercise. The First Lady started out with good intentions on reforming the food industry, but caved to its influence and money. You won’t hear Mrs. Obama calling for manufacturers to pull sugar-filled fake foods off the shelves, but instead have her push kids to exercise more.

Just this week, students nationwide tweeted photos of their school lunches with #thanksmichelleobama. She may not deserve sole credit or blame for the unhealthy meals, but she also swerved off course as the industry (predictably) fought back.

3. Thin people can be “fat” on the inside.

This revelation as a shock to me as a skinny person. It comes when “Fed Up” talks with Brady Kluge, 16, a high schooler in Easley, S.C., struggling with his weight and nutrition. He confesses, “My brother can eat all he wants and still be skinny. And I’ll look at him and say, ‘Well, he can do it, why can’t I?’ And I hold on to that.”

The brothers go to a clinic for DEXA scans to measure their body fat percentages. The results are alarming. Brady has 47 percent body fat overall and 60 percent body fat in his belly area. Chandler, 10, has 22 percent belly fat, and Joseph, 19, has 28 percent belly fat.

Some doctors believe that even skinny people with unusually high belly fat are at equal risk as obese people for diabetes and heart disease. They may look healthy in body shape but the excess fat around their organs can be a big risk factor.

It’s called “Tofi”: Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside.

I found this to be satisfying for one reason: Project Bulk helped me reduce my overall body fat percentage to an excellent 15.7 percent. While my body shape remained essentially the same, I had become healthier nonetheless. So suck it, mean commenters. 😛

Video: trailer for “Fed Up”

“Fed Up” takes the alarming trends of the global push for faster, more convenient eating to their ugly end: billions dying with every bite taken. Even I, a healthy eater, took another hard look at my pantry and refrigerator after viewing this documentary.

Those looking for the reasons behind our expanding waistlines should look no further than this movie and then, their own kitchens.

“Fed Up”

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