Are you fed up? After seeing the movie “Fed Up”, you will be. Direct and candid, Fed Up, executive produced by Katie Couric and Laurie Lennard (“An Inconvenient Truth”), tells you the truth about the American diet and should be a wake-up call for all of us.
I took to the theater not only as a movie fan but as a family doctor. I went with long-term friend and cardiologist Michael Rocha M.D. from the New Bedford Wellness Initiative in Massachusetts. As physicians, we thought we knew more than the average Joe about diet and exercise. The reality, however, is that medical school and residency do as much to teach doctors about nutrition as the National Baseball League teaches a ball player how to make his own bat. We are all must step up to the plate whether or not we have mastered all the tools in our arsenal. Ironic, isn’t it? The focus in U.S. medical training is more on how to treat disease than how to prevent it. Think of all the suffering from disease that could be stopped if more people were taught how to eat well to live a healthier life.
Fed Up has courageously taken the reins as America’s advocate. The lobbyists of the food industry, aka Big Food, cannot be happy about it.
Since the 1970s, we have been fed the line that too much fat is the culprit. Unfortunately, when you remove the fat from food, it tastes like cardboard. To keep Big Food alive, added sugar replaced the fat. The numbers are staggering. A single can of soda contains 111 percent the allowable added sugar per day for men (36 grams or nine teaspoons per day) or 167 percent for women (24 grams or six teaspoons per day). It makes you want to read your nutrition labels a bit more closely.
For once, the United States does not want to be the leader but we are faced with an epidemic. America ranks first in the world for obesity with 32.8 percent of its citizens weighing in as obese.
Big Food is eager to point the finger at everyone else. Exercise, they say. The sedentary lifestyle must be to blame for obesity. While exercise is an important part of health and wellness, exercise alone will not control someone’s weight -- not when it takes 1 hour and 12 minutes of swimming to burn off one medium sized French fry serving. What else are people eating throughout the day? Too many are relying on the convenience of processed food and the hidden added sugar. They are too focused on the “low fat” and “reduced fat” labels to do otherwise.
Big Food pulls every trick in the book. Marketers target children’s programming. School cafeterias serve fast food straight from McDonald’s, Arby’s and Sbarro’s. Health insurers buy stock in fast food companies because they know that is what keeps them in business. Lobbyists have even influenced what information is included in government reports.
Fed Up turns its spotlight on the ugliness of Big Food but it is up to you to decide how to step up for yourself. Show that you are fed up by pulling away from added sugar in your own diet. Speak out to your state legislators about changes that can have a widespread impact. Do not be a statistic. Get to a theater today to see Fed Up for yourself and join the charge.
Fed Up: 5 stethoscopes
(Dr. Tanya Feke is a family physician and guest columnist for the Record Journal and Town Times. She has been press credentialed to the LA Film Festival and continues to pursue a love of film. Her reviews are rated on a five stethoscope scale. Follow her blog (www.tanyafeke.com), Facebook page (Diagnosis Life), or twitter (@tanyafeke).