By Sarah Bergen
Featuring overweight children and sweet treats, this month’s green film covers a topic that many may not associate with sustainability. Fed Up explores America’s food industry and its effects on human health, particularly the health of children.
The film, which hit the screen on Nov. 11 and will show again in Sweigart Auditorium on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m., sheds light on the true causes of America’s obesity epidemic.
Fed Up raises the question, “Is there a link between our ever-expanding waist lines and the government’s own dietary guidelines?”
The film features dangerously obese children who, despite their efforts to exercise and eat less, are trapped in a lifestyle that is destroying their health. They are only a fraction of the thousands of obese American children who suffer with excess body weight.
Viewers may be shocked at the startling statistics that Fed Up presents. For example, the film claims that more people will die this year from obesity than starvation.
The epidemic is even more frightening because children are dealing with the effects of obesity at alarmingly young ages.
“In the past quarter century, the number of overweight children has grown from 1 in 20 to nearly 1 in 5,” says the film. As a result, we are seeing strokes in 8-year-olds, heart attacks in 20-year-olds and the need for dialysis by age 30 because of kidney failure.
The film also explores whether or not obesity and diabetes are genetically-influenced conditions, and points out that Type 2 diabetes, which used to be called adult-onset diabetes, was once unheard of for children to develop. There were over 57 thousand cases of Type 2 diabetes among adolescents in 2010, compared to zero cases in 1980.
After evaluating the effects of obesity on the health of Americans, Fed Up reveals that it is not the fat content or the calories that are weighing us down.
The true evil behind this epidemic is something that we don’t usually check nutrition labels for. The film says that if people are looking to lose weight and improve their health, they must stop counting calories and turn their attention to the sugar content in their diet.
Fed Up states that 80 percent of the 600,000 foods that line the shelves of our supermarkets contain added sugar. Sugar is lurking in the most unlikely foods, but is especially plentiful in the condiments that we often drown our meals in. Salad dressings, tomato sauce and ketchup are packed with added sweetness, as are foods that have a healthy reputation, such as yogurt and fruit juice.
The film reveals that Americans have doubled their sugar intake since 1977, and that this sweet additive is an addictive toxin that causes heart disease, heart attacks and liver failure.
“Fructose, the sweet part of sugar, can only be processed in the liver. When your liver is pushed to the max, the pancreas comes to the rescue by producing excess amounts of a hormone called insulin,” says the film.
Insulin’s job is to turn sugar into fat and it also blocks the signals to your brain that tell you that you are full. This leads you to continue to feel hungry, and eat more. Fed Up explains that the behaviors that we associate with obesity, such as gluttony and laziness, are the results of high sugar intake, not the cause.
Fed Up explores other issues including unhealthy public school lunches, corruption in the food industry, rising healthcare costs, and soft drink advertising that targets youth and minorities.
While this month’s green film may not directly relate to global warming or rising sea levels, Dr. Laura Hyatt of the Biology Department feels that Fed Up is the heart of sustainability.
“Sustainability is not just about the trees and the Earth and the environment,” she said. “What we eat is at the heart and core of what sustainability is. If we are using the environment to create food, turning all of our farmland into corn that then makes high fructose corn syrup, that then we use to poison people — that’s not sustainable.”
Printed in the 11/12/14 edition.