4/17/2020

fed up (the movie): a politically incorrect review

with the covid-19 emergency still running, i am still here at home trying to get the most out of my days of quarantine. so, after some work, some indoor exercise and a lot of planning about what i am going to do when all this will be over, i read more and i watch more movies too.
watching movies, tv shows and fiction in general usually makes me fall asleep. it's just from time to time that it happens that i am able to watch something from start to end without sleeping, and usually it's because it's really good or because it makes me angry. the movie "fed up" belongs to both categories.
“fed up” is 2014 documentary by Stephanie Soechtig about the relation between the standard western diet and the obesity epidemic that is affecting the US citizens, with a particular focus on its effects on children and teens. the whole movie comprehends the stories of some teens and their families who are fighting to loose some weight, plus many interviews to doctors, nutritionists and politicians on the same issue.
as i said, i found this movie to be extremely good in some things but extremely irritating in others. it's extremely good in all the info it provides about the damages that processed food causes to our health, with lots of details about the effects of sugar (and all the sugar-added foodstuffs), soft drinks and refined carbs. honestly, i think it's really hard to pack so much information is a movie that lasts just a little more of 90 minutes, so thumbs up for this.
now... the thumbs down part. as i said, there's a lot of detailed info on the effects of sugar on our health, but we all know that the standard western diet does not comprehend only sugar and refined carbs in excess but also an amount of meat and other animal products that would be considered unbelievable till a few decades ago. well, the movie says something about milk and diary (very little, to be honest) but nothing at all about meat and other animal products, while all the most recent studies have proved that animal products (and especially red meat that is so common in the standard western diet) are as detrimental to our health as sugar and refined carbs or even more. not a word about this in "fed up". why? at the end of the movie there are some sequences where the teens and their families are trying to eat better, putting just vegetables in their dishes. that's good, but why not to mention the damages that meat does to the body of a frugivorous primate like the homo sapiens?
but that's not the only thing that made me angry. one of background leitmotif that goes on for the whole movie is that the US government isn't doing enough against the obesity epidemic, as it's bowing down to the food industry's demands. that could be considered a strong argument during the last century, when the tv and the commercials were considered bulletproof truths because people had less possibilities to obtain other information. nowadays everyone can access to all the needed info with just a few clicks on the web, not to mention that even the traditional media like the tv and the magazines are providing daily a lot of details on diets and the lifestyles that can actually improve our health. once again, blaming governments for the way we feed ourselves means canceling the personal responsibility on our own body. and once again, this is terribly wrong and causes as many damages as the commercials and the marketing strategies of the food industry. why do people need the government to protect their health with a proper diet when they can do it themselves? i don't think that someone is actually forcing trash food in their throat. people are free to choose what to eat. children and teens obviously need some guidance, but that should be up to the families. people need to grow up and take the responsibility of their choices, not to live constantly under the supervision of institutions that tell them what to do.
another thing that i found quite irritating of the movie concerns a statement on which the media and the fitness experts insisted a lot during the last decades: the fact that a condition of overweight or obesity depends on the sum of two factors, too much food and too little movement (or more shortly, too many calories in plus too little calories out). according to the theory expressed in the movie, this statement isn't totally true as the quantity of movement a person makes (the burnt calories) isn't as important as the quality of the food, and it aims to make overweight people feel guilty for their condition and to blame themselves instead of taking action against the government that is lying to them about the risks of a trash-food-based diet. well, i am not saying that the quality of food isn't that important (we all know that our body reacts to improper food releasing chemicals that alter its function, favoring the storage of body fat) but it's also true that people are lazy and don't move too much. even people that consider themselves physically active (as if going to the gym three times per week could be considered having an active lifestyle) are actually sedentary. our body is designed to move. in nature a primate moves all day, except when she's sleeping or feeling sick. we don't, and in fact many of us are fat. what many humans consider a strong training routine is just a tamed, watered down and scaled down version of what our body really needs to stay healthy. have you ever seen an endurance athlete being overweight? i don't, and believe me, not all athletes love to eat properly, many of them like indulging in trash food. but if a trustworthy source of info like the ones presented in the movie says that exercising a lot isn't as important as eating sugar-free food, then people will start to justify their own laziness, once again blaming the governments and the media for conspiring against themselves. and we really don't need one more excuse to be lazy, don't we?