"Fed Up" Shows That Sugar Makes People Fat and Sick

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Producer Laurie David talks about the documentary “Fed Up,” which upends the conventional wisdom of why we gain weight and how to lose it. The film unearths the dirty little secret your favorite brands and restaurants don’t want you to know—far more of us get sick from what we eat than anyone ever realized and this is in largely due to added sugar in 80 percent of items sold in grocery stores. “Fed Up” opens May 9 at the Angelika.

“Exercise is essential for good health. But we can’t exercise our way out of the obesity epidemic. And if you just look at one small stat from the movie, which is a child who drinks one soda a day would have to be on a bicycle for an hour and 15 minutes to get rid of that soda,” Laurie David said. “There really aren’t enough hours in the day to exercise this food off.”

We should only be eating about 6-9 teaspoons of sugar a day, “But most of us are consuming about 22 teaspoons a day, which is an incredible amount of sugar. But the problem is, they’re not even aware they’re consuming it,” she said. “You don’t necessarily know you’re consuming sugar when you’re using store-bought salad dressing, or store-bought tomato sauce, or healthy granola bars. It’s added to all these foods.”

Although many people think that cutting down on fat will lead to weight loss, fat is not the problem—sugar is what causes people to gain weight. When the food industry created low-fat and nonfat versions of foods, they added sugar to those products to make up for the flavor lost when fat was removed. “Fed Up” shows how powerful food companies are and how they’ve taken advantage of the confusion about what constitutes a healthy diet. It also looks at the role advertising and marketing has worked to exacerbate the problems of obesity. “It’s outrageous that we allow these companies to market food that we know is unhealthy to children,” she said.

Read labels and pay attention to the sugar content in foods and drinks. If you want to cut out added sugar and improve your diet and health, avoid processed foods as much as possible. As Michael Pollan recommends in Food Rules: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pollan also has this nugget of advice: “If it’s a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.”

Watch the trailer