FED UP Uncovers False Truths About Health, Fitness & Nutrition

As the world’s obesity rates continue to rise to epidemic proportions, one film is asking, what is really making us all so unhealthy? FED UP aims to address the misconceptions we have about food and how it is impacting on our health. The film makes the bold claim that, “For the past 30 years, everything we thought we knew about food and exercise is dead wrong. FED UP is the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see.

FED UP comes to us from writer, producer and director Stephanie Soechtig and executive producers Katie Couric and Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH).The film recently opened in theatres around America on May 9th and is changing the way we view so-called ‘truths’ about health, fitness and nutrition.

The Problem

FED UP is quick to state that the American population is sitting heavy at a rate of 30% obesity. What’s more, even those people who may not be overweight or obese are still suffering chronic health conditions from their poor diets, with up to 40% of normal weight people having the metabolic dysfunction of those who are obese. One of the major metabolic dysfunctions affecting Americans (and Australians) is diabetes, with a surprising surge of adolescent diabetes cases – 57,638 cases in 2010 in the US, up from absolutely zero in 1980.

With modern science making us live longer than ever and more media attention on health issues today, why is the world’s health still in decline? According to the film, the problem has a lot to do with the huge increase of sugar in our diets, and the reluctance of governments to do anything about it due to their investments in the food industry. Corn-based sweetener companies alone have received over $8 billion in subsidies.
The documentary explores how Big Food dolls out mega tons of sugar to consumers through its products, but government bodies do little or nothing to warn people of the substance’s dangers or try to regulate its inclusion in products.

How Much Sugar Are We Getting?

The stats say that from 1977 to 2000 Americans have doubled their dietary intake of sugar, and between 1970 and 1990 Americans have increased their dietary intake of high fructose corn syrup by 1000%. Where do we get this sugar from? Well, 88% of food products sold in America have added sugar, and they’re being heavily marketed – especially towards children.

The FED UP website explained that kids watch an average of 4,000 food-related ads every year (that’s 10 a day) and that of these, a huge 98% of them are for food products that are high in fat, sugar and sodium. All that exposure is not only normalising junk food but also making kids want it more. After all, advertisers wouldn’t bother paying for expensive television ads unless they knew it worked via increased sales of their products.

The film has been making waves since its release in America and inspiring people to change the way they eat. Sarah Wilson from the site I Quit Sugar saw the film and said it made her heart ache. “It ached for the kids in the documentary. It ached for their parents who don’t know better. And it ached for my children, who are growing up in a time of mass advertising, of mass brain-washing, mass peer pressure, and who are part of a generation that for the first time in history are predicted to die at a younger age than their parents did.” What’s worse is that Wilson says the sugar situation in Australia is “pretty much mirroring what’s going on in the US,” she told Channel Ten’s Eyewitness News.

Should People Just Exercise More?

Many people cite laziness and lack of motivation as main causes for our ever widening waistlines. Yet contrary to widespread belief, the documentary suggests that the population is generally doing enough physical activity to stave off obesity. The stats say that between 1980 and 2000 fitness club memberships more than doubled in America, but obesity rates also doubled, so our diet habits must also come into play.

Compounding the problem is the addictive nature of sugar, which can mean that no matter how much we exercise, we’re still going back to foods that have far more energy than we’re able to burn off. Australian nutritionist Matt O’Neill appeared on Channel Ten’s Eyewitness News saying, “Don’t blame yourself, because there’s a part of it here where you’re getting addicted to foods. The whole nation has almost had their metabolism, their biochemistry, hijacked and we want more and more of this sugar.”

The solution needs to be about much more than condemning people as lazy and telling them to exercise more. Instead, we need an integrated approach that takes into account physical activity, nutrition and lifestyle habits. Personal trainers are perfectly positioned to take this message to people, educate them about the dangers of sugar and work with them in a supportive environment to make meaningful life changes that will improve their health.

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Helen O’Neill is the National Communications Manager for the Australian Institute of Fitness. She has over eight years of experience in editorial and communications work in the fitness industry. Helen connects the Australian Institute of Fitness to its audience through fitness articles, blogs, social media and PR.