I just saw the film “Fed Up” last night which was produced by Katie Couric and Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth) and I was very moved by it. It’s not like I didn’t already know that processed food and drink were a major reason for the obesity epidemic, but I had not been exposed to the dramatic rise in obesity in children and the impact that it is having on them.
Try watching a teenage go in for lap band surgery because he weighs 400 pounds. Wrap your head around the fact that 93 million Americans are affected by obesity. One soda a day increases a child’s chance of obesity by 60%. One 20-ounce bottle of soda contains the equivalent of approximately 17 teaspoons of sugar. And don’t think that switching to diet soda is going to save you. Artificial sweeteners trigger the same parts of your brain that sugar does and lead to sugar addiction and compulsions to eat and drink more.
The old paradigm of “energy in/energy out” that says all calories are the same appears to be wrong. The calories in an almond are not the same as the calories in a can of soda. An almond can actually help lower glucose levels in the body and the soda obviously increases them substantially. In other words, a calorie is NOT a calorie. Different food and drink products affect the body differently and set off different processes that either enhance our health and help us lose weight or diminish our health and lead to gain weight.
The emphasis of the film “Fed Up” is that sugar that is the biggest culprit contributing to the obesity epidemic. The use of sugar in almost all of our food products came about through a number of governmental decisions about how to subsidize the agriculture industry many years ago and any efforts to change this practice has met with powerful food lobby resistance. Even the Michele Obama campaign against childhood obesity got hijacked by the food industry giants and turned the focus to physical activity instead of the food that children consume.