Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Are you Fed Up?

Last week, I had the opportunity to see the new documentary, Fed Up, which is basically about the affect of food on health in America. To be honest, I didn't learn anything new in the movie and was basically just nodding my head in agreement the whole time. The documentary is a more elaborate version of a paper I wrote on The Obesity Epidemic in grad school. Obesity and related diseases (type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.) are increasing at alarming rates in the United States and especially in children. Americans consume way more sugar that the daily recommend amount and it comes mostly from added sugar in processed foods. Since a low-fat diet became popular 30 years ago, more and more sugar was added to food to make it taste good. And the sugar and processed food industry lobbies are powerful and influence our government. School lunches are unhealthy and parents and children are not educated on what they should be eating. The obesity epidemic is very alarming and costing us billions in healthcare. It will also become a national security issue when the next generation is Too Fat to Fight.

The documentary followed the lives of a few obese children and their families, talking about what they ate and how hard it was to lose weight. We often put blame on the victim in this case saying that these children are lazy and have no willpower. But they are victims of a society that markets unhealthy food to children and puts addictive substances (added sugar) into food. Unhealthy options (e.g. fast food, junk food) are much easier to come by than healthy options. There is no proper nutrition education in school and school lunches are awful. As someone that tries to be as healthy as possible, I know that it is really difficult. Turning down tasty food and trying to make meals from scratch is not easy, at all, in this society. I had to educate myself to figure out what to eat to stay healthy, most people won't do that. And it is still very difficult for me to choose an apple over a cupcake if given the option, and I often fail. I can't keep sweets in my house because I will eat them.

I'm always torn on the issue of the government regulating food, such as a sugar tax or limiting marketing unhealthy food to children. I think that people should be free to choose what they want to eat. However, my health insurance premiums are paying for obesity-related diseases and my tax dollars are going to agriculture subsidies. The way our society sees food and how we teach our children about nutrition needs to change. The movement is happening with grassroots efforts. But there needs to be change on a larger scale with the food industry and government working together. Many people, including in this documentary, compare the smoking revolution to the impending food revolution. I think that it is similar, but has a major difference in that not all food is bad. Food companies can create healthier options.

I don't think that there is a perfect solution to making our food healthier but there are some things that you can start doing now to contribute to the healthy food movement, including:

  • base your diet on fresh vegetables
  • think of food as fuel for your body to work well
  • limit processed foods, even if they say they are healthy, organic, low-fat, gluten-free, etc.
  • teach your kids about good nutrition and pack their lunches
  • pack your own lunch
  • Make food from scratch and think outside of the box with healthy recipes (not just salads!)

What steps are you taking now to make you and your family healthier?

Do you think a sugar tax would work to fight the obesity epidemic?

Disclaimer: I received two complimentary tickets to see the Fed Up movie but was not compensated for this post. All opinions and text are my own.


  1. I agree with you 100%. I admit that I still make very bad food choices from time to time but I try to limit those bad choices as much as possible. I used to eat out all the time and ate nothing but processed food (even if at home) and have since stopped doing that (for the most part). I mostly bring my lunch to work as well.

  2. Packing your own lunch saves money and is almost always the healthier choice.


What do you think?