Directed by Stephanie Soechtig
Atlas Films (2014)
Reviewed by Angela Lemond, RDN, CSP, LD
"Everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong. FED UP is the film the food industry doesn't want you to see."
Synopsis of Film
Eating less and exercising more; taking personal responsibility and having willpower won't defeat obesity. The real problem is the amount of sugar that is in processed foods that is creating a near metabolic impossibility to lose weight. The food industry is such a powerful force that not even the First Lady Michelle Obama can tame the marketing that is largely geared toward children. Our brains are constantly being "hijacked" by unhealthy messaging that makes it impossible for people to make right decisions when it comes to food.
Pros and Cons
This film really highlights a true problem – there are too many added sugars in the average American diet and that has contributed to obesity. Added sugars as well as added fats should be minimized in order to maintain a healthy weight. It was great to see that they encourage families to cook more whole foods together. The benefits of family meals go far beyond nutrition, although that is one tremendous aspect. One other great highlight was that healthy eating should be emphasized for people of all shapes and sizes – that someone can be a normal weight yet still be malnourished and/or at health risk.
It was unfortunate that registered dietitian nutritionists were not recommended as one of the solutions for the obesity epidemic. RDNs are health care professionals that are uniquely qualified to treat obesity and obesity-related conditions through medical nutrition therapy. There was one mention of a "nutritionist" but that the particular one mentioned did not "see children that young." The reality is that there are many RDNs that specialize in treating childhood obesity practicing right in their communities, and they would have been an excellent resource for the families featured in the documentary (visit http://www.eatright.org and click on "Find a Registered Dietitian"). Negative energy balance must be achieved in order to lose weight; therefore, eating less and moving more does indeed make a difference. Exercise is the energy out – and we know that regular physical activity does help in weight management. This film seemed to imply that exercise is not an important aspect to health. Besides weight management, exercise clearly reduces co-morbid conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It is wonderful that First Lady Michelle Obama has "eat healthy" and "get active" as two key messages in the Let’s Move Campaign.
FED UP highlights possibly the most important health crisis of our time – obesity. Causes of the obesity epidemic are multi-factorial in nature; some of which were not mentioned in this film. Parents need to know that they are actually the first, and most powerful influencers in their children's lives - and that includes influencing healthy eating behaviors and modeling an overall healthy lifestyle. It is essential that each individual person feel empowered to make healthy food choices. This movie fails to inspire someone to do just that by insinuating they have little to no control.
Unfortunately, most of 90 minutes of this film discussed the alleged causes of obesity and left a fraction of time discussing solutions. Americans need solutions. One major one left out was the referral to a registered dietitian nutritionist . It is the RDN that arms a person with the practical and reliable knowledge along with a customized plan and ongoing support to successfully combat obesity once and for all. In fact, RDNs all over the country are currently on the front lines in the obesity battle, but there is still work needed in the area of physician referrals and health coverage of nutrition services. A discussion about health coverage for RDN nutrition consultations for the treatment of obesity is vital when it comes to this topic.