On a cold and damp September evening I sat down with a BLT in one hand and a beer in the other. I spent the next few hours taking notes on what has come to be a rather controversial movie, Fed Up. If you were to ask me if I am fed up of the nutritional and fitness path that we are taking as a society I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you ‘Yes!’. So naturally, a movie with a title based on that very topic is going to get my attention. In fact, its got the attention of many of my colleagues in the industry.
Am I Fed Up? Hell yea!
Am I sick of the gimmicks, the lies, sick and fat America? Yea!
Than why is it that the general population gives this movie 5 star reviews, claiming it is “Life Changing”, and the “Greatest Documentary of all time!”, yet experts in the field say that this movie is awful? Sure, there is some great information in this movie, but there is also mounds of non-sense. Like covering a turd with sweet maple glaze.
Before we start Fed Up: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, it is important to know the definition of a documentary-
a movie or a television or radio program that provides a factual record or report.
Out of the gates, Fed Up, starts off strong. Painting an accurate picture of America; obese. A problem exists, the epidemic is a very real thing.
Spoiler Alert: The Resolution? Eat better. Eat whole foods. Eat vegetables. Eat Fruit. Reduce processed food intake. This is a message that everyone can get behind. The problem isn’t the answer, its how we reach that conclusion. More on that soon enough.
Throughout the movie there were the occasional clumps of solid sound science. Like the difference in how the body absorbs soda compared to almonds, or how this is not a problem of genetics.
Suggesting fast food be banned from school lunch programs is probably a good idea.
What is failed to mention during the movie is that the obesity epidemic, while still a problem, has started to level off. Most of the statistics used in the movie come from the year 2000…a bit strange to conveniently misplace another decade worth of data. Clearly, forgoing this information pushes the narrative further, making fear mongering the vehicle of choice.
For a movie like this to work what must happen early on in the movie is the discrediting of science. Like Bruce Lee said “Empty your glass so that you can drink from mine.” Fed Up does not ask you to pour out your glass, they do that for you. By having a panel of ‘experts’ tell you that everything that you know is not what it seems, you get the honor of being casted as Neo and pulled around through the Matrix to relearn what reality truly is by the all knowing Morpheus. But the world we live in is not science fiction, it is science fact. And in the real world Morpheus is just a swindler trying to peddle you some shit that you don’t need.
How does one just simply discredit the science? As the movie demonstrates, all you have to do is state “It’s wrong” or “Solutions are not the solutions” or “That’s crazy” or “That’s an old science”. The sadistic beauty in all of this is that they don’t really have to explain themselves. So the uneducated or confused consumer just goes “Oh. Ok. Cool. They seem pretty smart.”
Did you know that Energy Balance is chalked up as an ‘old science’ and to be cataloged with fitness gimmicks and snake oil salesmen? Well, not really. But that’s what Fed Up and its bright cast from Beavis and Butthead would have you think. Speaking of, as soon the words “Eat less, exercise more” are spoken, Mark Hyman swoops in like Gotham City’s only savior- “Forget about it.” Only to be matched with a “Energy balance is non-sense” from Hyman’s Robin, Gary Taubes. But here is the problem with that claim. Non-sense like this undermine the most rudimentary of proven science. This literally is a slap in the face and a combo nut tap to Chemistry. Biochemical energy is not really a debatable subject. This isn’t a “The moon landing was a hoax” garbage, this is a “Gravity doesn’t exist” BS. Because we all know, if the science is saying otherwise, make up your own science.
Best selling author Gary Taubes makes an attempts at reasoning by simplifying energy in and energy out into bites (as an attempt to discredit it)while failing to mention energy density per bite. He also states that if there were a Guinness book world record of calorie counting, no one could do it. I’ve replayed that part multiple times and still don’t know what on Earth he is trying to communicate.
Hyman’s partner in crime, Gary Taubes, or Ted Theodor Logan as he is better known in some circles, states that it is a ‘crime’ to ask a person to be responsible for their actions. Dr. Lustig backs this up with a swift remark that personal responsibility is ‘beyond me’. They use this to follow the narrative into the topic of school lunches and the food environment that Americans live in. I get that we are a product of our environment, but do we really want to claim that its the grocery store down the street that made me fat? Pawning off personal responsibility to the lowest bidder does absolutely nothing to help this situation. The truth is, unless the world goes to shit and we are living in a post apocalyptic wasteland, the access to calorie dense delicious foods will always be there. Demanding the market down the street change because you have a muffin top is bullshit. We will never live in an exclusively perfect low calorie, all-natural, free range, organic utopia. If you truly want to eat healthy, you have to take the burden of being personally responsible for your actions. You have to be the one to pass up the burgers and fries for some good ol’ fashion home cooking, and I dunno, a piece a fruit.
And now that the narrative has you where they want you, they double down. You know that thing called exercise? Well, apparently it is not the solution. To prove that exercise is unfathomably useless in fighting obesity, Fed Up provides its viewers with an interesting statistic. From 1980-2000 gym memberships doubled. Coincidentally, the obesity rate continued to climb. And what may be the most ignorant conclusion drawn from post hoc rationalization, we are told that exercise does not work. Even my dog, who is ignorant to the spoken English language and has a brain the size of a walnut was dumbfounded by this conclusion. And this crap nonsense made it all the way past the cutting room and fed into our brains?!
That’s right, they used the ‘not enough time in the day’ excuse. Yet there is still enough time to watch tv, play video games, and fade away on our cellphones. The narrow perspective on the benefits of exercise in Fed Up limit us to just calories burned, or ‘bites burned’ if you are Gary Taubes. But actual experts in fitness and health know that exercise has so many benefits that it is as close the the elixir of health that we know of. Suggesting that there isn’t enough time in the day for the absolutely best thing that you can do for your health should be criminal.
Later on in the movie, the notion that Michele Obama’s message of exercise being ‘unfortunate’ is the coup de gras to any sort of fleeting thought that exercise can help. I didn’t realize that America was ‘all set’ on its sedentary lifestyle choices.
But just when things couldn’t get any worse, it is pointed out to the viewers that we are “continually told a message contrary to the science”. Yes, that’s right, the movie and its circus clowns who have been feeding you non scientific garbage that would make any expert want to blow his brains out, ironically is claiming that their turd is prettier than all of the other turds out their. That somehow their pseudoscience is the cream of the crop. To reinforce this Michele Simon points out that the “Food Industry confuses the issue and talks about exercise and calories.”. Wait…if the big bad food industry is really talking about exercise(good for you) and calories (a non debatable units of energy), than they are actually the good guys and the bad guys are…the people confusing the issue…like I dunno, this movie and its cast from the Beverly Hillbillies.
Now enter the movie’s part-time bad-guy, David Allison, apparently paid millions from the food industry. Whether true or not, the answers that he gave during his limited interview in Fed Up shows that he was looking at the complex problem rationally. He wasn’t simplifying the conclusions into a single vilified enemy. Unfortunately, his hesitation to go all in and remain intelligent in the face of interrogation was depicted as evil. Yes, logic, as we see, is the enemy.
And as we take a stroll through the houses of the obese families with the occasional chiming in of attractive doctors, Taubes makes a mention that cigarettes cause lung cancer equally to certain foods making you fat. False again. There is no one food or macro-nutrient that will make you fat. If the movie chose to not be so extreme you would see healthy people, or even fit individuals eating these same foods that apparently destine us to obesity. Of course, whistle-blower, Mark Hyman reveals that the “Food industry wants you to think it’s cheaper” and that somehow people don’t know that is costs less to cook at home. Really? People actually think that it costs less to eat out? I’d love to see the poll on that one.
But now the true enemy is introduced. The level 12, big boss, the kingpin of the worlds evil, the true mastermind behind the reason we are fat and sick. Sugar. As stated above, conveniently using statistics from 2000 when more data exists, sugar, essentially the macro-nutrient your body runs on, is the bad-guy. “Sugar is poison”. The discovery(or better yet, claim)that sugar is the cause of all of our diseases is worth a Nobel Peace Prize. Yet why is it that these hosts are just authors that run workshops in non-scientific communities? Oh, that’s right, because these claims are all bullshit. Of course, accompanying the evil sugar is his evil twin insulin. Where his role has been dumbed down to “makes you fat”. Actually, insulin, and its evil agenda has been so inundated into our culture that it gets very little attention in the movie, its just assumed that unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years you know that insulin is trying to kill you. Guess what, its not.
Since we established that sugar is deadly and we all (should) know that High Fructose Corn Syrup is absorbed equally the same, then we also know that both are equally bad. So then what if sugar isn’t as bad for us? You guessed it, neither is HFCS.
To compound the issue, the reason you are lazy is because of sugar. Not all of the other factors. Sugar is what makes you a sloth. The video games, the culture, the lack of exercise, the nutritional deficiency, the tv, and the sheer effort that is required to not be lazy…nope that’s not the problem.
Like in classic hero mythology, we are introduced with a villain. But now a hero is born. Fiber. From what is gathered from this movie, fiber will turn poison into safety. Since fruit has fiber, its good for you. But, if fiber is the true 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t it get a little more attention in the movie? There are many unanswered questions when we make the assumption that fiber nullifies the toxicity of sugar. Should I than supplement with fiber when I eat a doughnut? What is the exact ratio of fiber to sugar that makes it suddenly safe?
erhaps artificial sweeteners are the way to go? Not so fast, they equally promote insulin secretion (which is true), but without the addition of glucose like from a regular coke. Isn’t sugar the bad guy? So a diet soda that delivers no glucose (or minimal amounts) is just as bad as a soda that delivers a lot of glucose and the same amount of insulin? I am not saying people should live off of diet soda, but it may make an easy transition for some in taking small steps towards weight loss. The patch is a better alternative to smoking, and eventually, the consumer wont need the patch. Get my drift?
The problem is that the above statement comes from science. But claims like “Diet food promotes disease” and “Disease doesn’t happen with one meal, but 1000” and “Sugar in every meal = obesity” have no grounding in science. They are exclusively sound clips to entertain you, to sell the movie, to sell books. This never was about educating you, it was only about getting your money.
Science you say? Well, sugar has been shown to be 8 times more addictive than cocaine. I’d hate to ruin the fear mongering but it isn’t, actually its been disproven
. Regardless, this is followed by a conspiracy theory of the food industry getting our infants hooked on sugar and Mark Hyman willfully explaining that “Willpower doesn’t work for addiction”
. I’m sure any addict can get behind that statement.
Evil Dinner Party
Fed Up claims that ‘Big Food is in business to make money’…duh. Here is the truth: Food corporations make money when you enjoy their foods. Restaurants stay in business when people enjoy their foods. Your friends and family continue to visit for dinner parties when they enjoy your food. If ‘Big Food’ is out to get you, then so aren’t the owners to your favorite restaurant. Equally so, you are just as evil when you make food that doesn’t break your wallet and still is flavorful to keep your friends and family coming back. If we are judging people on being in business to make money, then the target is on all of us. Personally, I believe the greater evil comes from junk movies and swindlers like this one making a profit off of you by selling you crap.
It is suggested that Big Food leave behind its profitable business model (creating thousands of jobs) for whole foods and farmer markets. Which sounds nice but would leave many of these businesses bankrupt and thousands unemployed. This is the best solution we can come up with?
Garth from Waynes World, or better known as Gary Taubes, slips in a quick “If you want to end obesity, you have to demonize the food industry”. A message that claims that science, and exercise, and knowledge, willpower, and personal responsibility will not solve this problem. That ignorantly demonizing macro nutrients, and conspiring about how corporations are out to get you, is a better approach. You see because “Eating better is like swimming upstream in the food environment” and its not the pure willpower of the fish that creates success but its blaming the river for being too rapid and devising conspiracy theories that claim that the bears upstream are in on it.
Concluding the movie we are informed of the responsibility that we have in educating our children on the toxic effects of sugar. Raising them up on scary pseudo-science to hopefully one day become a nation of ignorant bastards that have no room in our fully entertained world to allow science and logic in it. It is also suggested that warning labels be put on foods that contain sugar. Why stop at sugar though? Salt is more toxic than sugar ever will be. Even water can be toxic. With this logic, all foods, even filtered water is toxic and thus needing a warning label.
And we finally finish off with a family showing us the power of going on a ‘sugar detox diet’ (Thanks Hyman!). Proving again that selling the concept of eating better is best met not with science but with bullshit.
For me this movie raises the question, that there seems to be a specific recipe for making ‘documentaries’ that have a great (often false) narrative, conspiracy, so called ‘experts’, and just enough truth or science to make it believable. This movie blends in well with its friends, Ancient Aliens, Ghost Hunters, and the list goes on.
Like in the movie, The Matrix, when Agent Smith tells Neo-
“The first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.
This is the result of what happens when entertainment is at the wheel. This is the journey we take. What appears to be science is really just crap to push products. It’s intentions are purely selling entertainment at the expense of education. Knowledge is boring, the general population honestly doesn’t want to hear it, it is not accepted in the Matrix. But create a story and sprinkle in some science to ground it and you have an entertainment piece, something a bit more acceptable to the public.
According the definition, you could not classify Fed Up as a documentary. It is not factual. It closer resembles science fiction because their are hints of science but driven exclusively by the narrative.
Summarizing the main theme of Fed Up, we downplay personal responsibility, we discredit biochemical science, and we claim that exercise is not worth it. The only reason this movie has 5 star ratings is because it sits well with the American people. It’s what they want to hear. Fed Up is a product of our culture. It’s named ‘The Greatest Documentary” because the people saying this exist in a culture that produces thoughts and feelings that support these messages. This isn’t a hard pill to swallow, its a tasty cherry flavored chewable placebo. And its words sit in our brains only to create more confusion to an already noisy environment. If there is any solution to analysis paralysis, it is not allowing bullshit like this into your brain. Ironically the movie points to consumers not allowing junk food to enter their blood stream yet they deliver that message with junk science to little our brain waves. A bit hypocritical, don’t you think?
nderstand that this has a disastrous effect for our future. If the gang on Ancient Aliens convince me that “pyramids are space ships” than this becomes my belief. If I then research that by looking up others that claim the same thing, I solidify my beliefs. If I debate a historian or Egyptian expert on that very topic, his expertise in that field is minimized. Other people are claiming more wildly extravagant things. Stories that are entertaining. Your boring take on pyramids being the work of slaves? That’s old news.
What becomes fact is how popular something is believed, and what becomes the truth is how fervently they believe that. This kills the actual expert because entertaining theories hold more value than expertise in a society that demands to be entertained in every waking second. This is why fitness, nutrition, and health professionals call bullshit on this movie while the general public, having been entertained, give it more weight than the very people waving red flags. What may be more troublesome, is that pseudo-scientific methods for delivering exercise and nutrition knowledge may be more effective in the short term. And since we rely so heavily on our short attention spans, that seems to be the preferred method of travel. Longterm health, and a greater understanding of how the body works is easily stuffed under the sock drawer while methods that require less work, less responsibility, less thinking, and get results quicker are ideal for our current state.