The latest in a line of documentaries critiquing the American diet, “Fed Up” quickly zeroes in on what would appear to be its villain. According to the film, added sugar, in all forms – including not just the demonized high-fructose corn syrup, but also more natural-sounding throwbacks such as “pure” cane sugar – is almost singlehandedly responsible for what one interview subject calls the obesity tsunami sweeping the nation, as well as the sharp rise in diabetes.
Of course, the increased sugar in processed foods is just the weapon that’s killing us, according to director Stephanie Soechtig and journalist Katie Couric, who narrates and produced the informative and at times anger-inducing film. The real culprit, “Fed Up” argues, is an industry pushing sugar-laden junk food on an unsuspecting public.
Celebrities appearing in “Fed Up” include former President Bill Clinton and former FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler, both of whom bemoan the lack of government foresight on obesity and diabetes. (Opponents of so-called “nanny state” efforts to regulate, say, soft drink size are given short shrift.) But it’s author-activist Michael Pollan who delivers the film’s most succinct message when he says that the single best way to improve one’s diet is simply to cook what you eat.
Change, according to the film, isn’t going to happen unless it comes in the form of a revolution.
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For that reason, “Fed Up” isn’t so much a warning to the ignorant shopper or a tip for the unimaginative chef as it is a rallying cry. Whether it will convert the complacent is an open question.