Fed Up (2014) – Movie Review

Happy New Year! I’m a little late to the party, I know. Okay…a lot late. Nevertheless, there is nothing like starting out the New Year with some thought-provoking information, and I have just that for you today!


Narrated by news anchor Katie Couric, the 2014 documentary Fed Up looks at the current obesity epidemic in the United States, and suggests sugar as a primary contributor.

How can this be? Surely if we just cut out those “junk” foods from our diet that are high in sugar we’ll be okay…right?

The problem is that sugar isn’t just in “junk” foods. In the average American grocery store, there are more than 600,000 food items. Over 80% of them have added sugar. EIGHTY PERCENT. Crickey! We also have to consider all the processed starches like white bread, white rice, potato products, breakfast cereals, etc. because these kinds of products are instantly digested into glucose (sugar) in our bodies. One of the speakers in Fed Up put it really well. He said: “You can eat a bowl of cornflakes with no added sugar, or you can eat a bowl of sugar with no added cornflakes and they might taste different, but below the neck, they’re metabolically the same.”

That definitely makes you think twice, doesn’t it?

So how does sugar relate to obesity? Here’s a little of the science behind this theory.

The sweet part of sugar (fructose) can only be processed in the liver. This means that when we consume large amounts of sugar, we are actually overloading our liver, and preventing it from processing all that sugar. Luckily, our pancreas is able to step in and lend a hand. It reacts to the high levels of sugar by producing excess amounts of insulin, which is the energy storage hormone. So what does insulin turn excess sugar into for storage? You guessed it – fat! This is why sugar is thought to be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

The film also follows three young teens and shows the struggles they face being obese. Fourteen year old Joe has to get a bariatric surgery in order to lose weight and improve his health. Yes, FOURTEEN. How can we let this happen?!?!? As Dr. David Ludwig put it in the movie, “What does it say about our society that we would rather send our children to such mutilating procedures like bariatric surgery but yet lack the political will to properly fund things like school nutrition and ban junk food advertising to children?”  Definitely not right!

Here are some other thought-provoking tidbits from the movie:

  • Between 1977 and 2000, Americans have doubled their daily intake in sugar
  • When you take the fat out of the food to make it “healthier”, it tastes like cardboard. The food industry knows this, so they dump in the sugar to make it taste better. So now they sell lower fat foods, but with higher sugar content. The thing is – junk food is still junk even if it’s less junky!!
  • In a recent study at Princeton University, 43 cocaine-addicted rats were given the choice between cocaine or sugar water over a 15-day period. 40/43 chose the sugar. Studies show that your brain lights up with sugar just like it does with cocaine or heroine.


  • While food nutrition labels list government recommended daily amounts of various nutrients, when you look on any food label you will not find sugar listed with a % for the daily recommendation. I found this really interesting, so I looked up why this might be. The Government of Canada says that “sugar does not have a % daily value, because there is no recommended amount of sugar for a healthy population.” What?!?! How does this make sense given all the negative findings associated with sugar??
  • Congress classifies pizza as a vegetable if it contains a certain amount of tomato paste. SERIOUSLY?? I just….wow……
  • “I had no idea I’d be talking about weight gain and obesity my entire career” – Katie Couric.  I think this is such a profound statement and shows just how pressing an issue obesity really is! 
  • Many people think that if you are thin then you are healthy, but that’s not necessarily true. You can be fat on the inside and skinny on the outside, or metabolically obese but a normal weight. Being skinny-fat is equally as dangerous and leads to all the same consequences as fat-skinny, such as heart attack, strokes, cancer, dementia and diabetes.
  • Disease doesn’t happen with one meal, but it does happen with a thousand meals. Today, sugar is somehow a part of every single meal, meaning disease is imminent.
  • The most important thing you can do is cook and eat real food – Michael Pollan
  • It’s not an easy transition to real food. But it starts locally; really as locally as our fork. Everybody has a choice three times a day as to what they put on it. Make it good! I love this concept! 

Are you FED UP?


*Since the release of Fed Up, there has been a lot of backlash about the movie and its supposed “misinformation”. The way I see it is that the writers have simply presented the information to the public and it is now up to the viewers to choose to believe it or not. I personally believe that there are MANY contributing factors to the obesity epidemic, and that sugar is most certainly one of them. 

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2 thoughts

  1. thanks for simplifying the starch/sugar conversion issue for us simple minded types. It is absolutely amazing how many people don’t get this concept. Even those who refuse to believe the whole grain brain/wheat belly line of thinking cannot ignore this simple chemistry happening in the body. Nice quotes too!

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