We all need to eat. Nourishing our bodies with food is essential to each and every human being on the planet. What we chose to eat and why, however, is a complex matter. Our individual eating habits are determined by a variety of different factors such as socio-economic status, religious beliefs, political views, heritage, and culture. In the new documentary Fed Up director Stephanie Soechtig explores the problem of obesity in America with a special emphasis on the problem of overweight children. The film provides a multi faceted look at the root causes of the epidemic and isn’t shy about placing blame on food companies, modern marketing techniques, lobbyists, customer misinformation, the proliferation of fast food culture, and government inaction.
Fed Up is narrated and co produced by newscaster Katie Couric who has followed America’s struggle with obesity for much of her career. The film includes sound bites from a number of doctors, health experts, and other personalities including former U.S. president Bill Clinton and food writer Michael Pollan. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the documentary, however, is its use of personal video diaries shot by several children struggling with obesity. By using this footage Stephanie Soechtig is able to put a human face on the issue and strike a balance between the dry facts and figures presented in the film and the true life experiences of real human beings. The video diaries serve to give viewers a glimpse into the lives of obese kids and the emotional and physical consequences of being overweight.
Fed Up is bound to be controversial because of the strong stance it takes against powerful food companies and a number of influential individuals (in particular Michelle Obama and her “Let’s Move!” campaign). The film makes the case that much of what the public has been told about diet and exercise is wrong and the obesity problem has been made worse by unfair advertising aimed at children and misleading food labeling. Fed Up asserts that time after time U.S. food companies have chosen profits over public health.
Fed Up places a great deal of emphasis on soft drink companies. The film even proclaims soda to be this century’s equivalent to cigarettes. Archival footage shows reps for big tobacco continuously denying the fact that smoking causes cancer. Similarly in 2014 the makers of soft drinks such as Coke have mounted their own campaigns asserting that despite recent research to the contrary soda doesn’t cause obesity.
Fed Up is a compelling film about a complex problem. The documentary provides sobering statistics such as the fact that 93 million people in the U.S. are obese, more than 9 million kids 6 to 19 years old are considered to be overweight, and although in 1980 there were no reported cases of American children having type 2 diabetes that number rose to 57,636 in 2010.
Fed Up is a well researched documentary that gives audiences an overview of various aspects of the obesity problem. The film also challenges consumers to not only educate ourselves on what is in the food we eat but also to make healthy choices and eat “real” food. The film is informative, entertaining, and eye opening. Whether you follow a vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, or kosher diet Fed Up encourages all of us to think for ourselves, become familiar with food labels, and take steps to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Fed Up opens May 9.