'Fed Up' Documentary Explores America's Youth Obesity Epidemic

Friday, 09 May 2014 11:31 AM

By Ken Mandel

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A new documentary, "Fed Up," is taking aim at the most sinister threat to American lives: sugar-saturated junk food.

Journalist Katie Couric served as executive producer and narrator of the movie, which examines the American diet and the unrelenting damage that hidden sugars wreak on the human body.

"It's incredibly alarming," Couric said Thursday on "Good Morning America."
"You're supposed to eat six to nine teaspoons a day — or that's the safe threshold, according to the American Heart Association, but there's hidden sugar in everything. Of the 60,000 products in the grocery store, 80 percent have added sugar."

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The documentary, which first debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, opens nationwide Friday, and is billed as the "film the food industry doesn't want you to see." It was co-produced by Laurie David, who won an Academy Award as producer of Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."

According to "Fed Up," sugar is responsible for America's rising obesity epidemic, but it's hard to avoid. Food companies pour millions into branding and advertising, and sugary snacks and soft drinks are the cause of the health crisis, especially among the country's youth, the film asserts.

An increase in obesity and type II diabetes among children is of grave concern in a world where early-onset diabetes was largely non-existent a few years ago. One in three Americans will have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue, according to the film.

"One of the most sobering and tragic statistics is that this generation is expected to lead a shorter lifespan than their parents," David told CBS News. "And if that [isn't] motivation for parents and children to do something about this issue — to say, 'Hey, this is a really unfair legacy that we're being left with' — I don't know what is."

"Fed Up" chronicles the lives of four young people fighting obesity during a two-year period, despite regular exercise and portion control. One 14-year-old boy is considering lap band surgery, while a 15-year-old boy expresses fear of type II diabetes. In all the cases, the teenagers are ashamed, scared, and discouraged.

The entire food industry is demonized with the assertion that fast-food chains and the makers of processed foods pose as big a threat to public health as the tobacco industry once did, Couric said on "GMA."

"The USDA promotes agriculture and establishes dietary guidelines, which is an inherent conflict of interest. Fifty percent of school districts serve junk food for lunch, fast food for lunch. The kids are getting terrible choices."

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