Last night, I was invited to a preview of the new movie Fed Up, the "film the food industry doesn't want you to see." Executive Producer Laurie David (An Inconvenient Truth), Congresswoman DeLauro, Senator Corey Booker, Director Stephanie Soechtig, and Center for Science in the Public Interest Executive Director Michael Jacobson were all in attendance and spoke at the event, which was standing room only (they even had to turn invited guests away!).
It's a great film - a must-see, really. The film lifts the veil on many critical issues like how the food industry influences the dietary guidelines put forth by the government, including the "low fat" movement and what that has done to the waistlines of Americans. It addresses the constant mantra that 'calories in, calories out' is the solution to our health and explains clearly and with the right amount of science that every calorie isn't the same and that physical activity isn't the only solution. And it tackles sugar, and how our addiction to sugar is making us fatter and sicker than ever before. But perhaps most importantly, it blames the environment - the food industry, bad policies, advertising to children - not individual willpower as the cause of the problem.
It's a well done film and takes complex issues and science and makes it easy to swallow for the average American, which is no small feat for issues like this. It covers the issues clearly and makes the case convincingly for real change and real food.
But I didn't leave inspired, like I had hoped. I left depressed. Depressed at the seemingly hopelessness of the situation. Depressed that, even when one of the obese children in the film makes changes, he quickly gains the weight back. Depressed that we have a generation of children born to parents who themselves have always been obese, who struggle with a decision to provide healthier food to their child or give up chocolate. Depressed that it's basically impossible to eliminate sugar from your diet, because it's literally everywhere (did you know that 80% of the 600,000 items in the grocery store have added sugar?), including the check-out aisle at Office Depot. Depressed that, in 1980 there were no cases of kids with diabetes and now there are about 60,000 cases.
Depressed that the way out isn't clear. Or easy. And the film didn't offer a lot of great options. If our individual willpower and attempts at a healthy diet aren't strong enough to withstand the environmental onslaught of addictive food, what's a person to do? The #1 goal is to get the film in every school in the country and while I support that goal whole-heartedly, it's not clear to me what happens then. What do these children and their teachers and families do next? I think it's time to start planning the "Fed Up" sequel - "Fired Up and Ready to Go."