Monday, June 2, 2014

Fed Up Review

I took off a half day on Friday to go see a matinee of Fed Up at the Downer theater. You know you're a nutrition/public health nerd when you actually take time off of work to go see a documentary on a Friday afternoon.

Since I was going to see a movie about nutrition and the sad state of the American diet, I ate a healthy lunch from the Whole Foods salad bar. I love those alo aloe vera drinks, but sadly I hastily bought one that had too much added sugar. That would have never happened before I saw Fed Up!

I thought the movie was very good overall and am encouraging others to see it. Critics have been rating it 2.5/4 stars.

Since I am not a RD or Public Health official, my opinion of the movie may not be as valid as someone who had studied the field of nutrition extensively (see the link to The Skinny on Health's blog below for that perspective).

The movie focused on telling the story of the state of the American diet through the eyes of adolescent, overweight/obese children. Clearly the tactic was to make the audience feel like these kids were vulnerable and very ill due to the big food companies that have taken over American grocery store shelves. 

Many nutrition experts and doctors that I admire were interviewed for the documentary: Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Dr. Robert Lustig and Dr. David Kessler.

Some takeaways, of which I won't go into great detail because I'm writing this five days after I saw the movie:
  • Sugar consumption in our society is a huge problem. This is quite obvious, but have you ever tracked your sugar intake for one day? Even when I eat relatively healthy, I am shocked at how high mine can be sometimes. Dr. Lustig says "Sugar is poison."
  • Basically, eat as many whole, unprocessed foods as possible. 
  • Cook at home when you can (Pollan is a huge advocate of this). Pollan says that the "government is subsidizing the obesity epidemic."
  • Exercising alone won’t help someone lose weight (which is why they seemed to bash Michelle Obama’s "Let’s Move" program, but they also mentioned she didn’t want to attack the big food companies as First Lady). I always read that maintaining and losing weight is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise and I tend to believe it. The saying "abs were made in the kitchen" is what I always think of! 
  • The film covers something I didn't know a lot about that I found really interesting--the McGovern report was introduced in 1977 and according to Wikipedia, George McGovern's goals were to suggest that "Americans eat less fat, less cholesterol, less refined and processed sugars, and more complex carbohydrates and fiber."
  • The comparison of junk food companies to tobacco companies is a valid one. One day, there might be warnings on your soda can saying that it can cause obesity, diabetes, etc.
I went grocery shopping after the movie and I found myself buying less processed food. I have always been a diligent nutrition facts reader, but Fed Up definitely instilled this in me even more. 

If you've seen Fed Up, what did you think about it? Did it influence you to start eating healthier?

Links to other reviews on Fed Up:
Washington Post
The Skinny on Health blog (probably my favorite summary so far)
NY Times

These are my opinions of the movie and I am not an expert in the field of nutrition.


  1. I too think others should see it. Chris, the scientist, thought the facts were a little messed up but I think it's just the big picture that's important to take away from the film. I've made changes to my diet since seeing it this past weekend and have found it really is easy to eat whole foods. I've even stopped eating cereal which I never thought would happen. Granted it's early, that could change :)

  2. I'll have to put this on my list. I laughed at Karis's cereal comment. I never liked the taste of cereal in the first place and then always considered it a kind of corporate conspiracy--how can we get people to shell out $3 or $4 for some really cheap ingredients...