You are what you eat. That is the simple message from Stephanie Soechting’s new documentary about the food we produce / consume and the correlation with the ‘global obesity epidemic’ that we have been hearing for the last few decades. Fed Up explores two parallel ideas: that the amount of sugar we ingest is more important than the levels of fat or calories (or even exercise); and that multinational food companies and corporate lobbyists have spent decades feeding us misinformation about how to live healthy lives and exploiting our ignorance for vast profits.
The film divides itself between the emotional personal journeys of a number of obese youngsters trying to lose weight, and more factual sections of historical and political analysis of the processed food industry and how it has gained such dominance in American culture. At certain points, watching Fed Up is worse than sitting through a horror film. Horror films work by confronting characters with symbolic external threats (vampire; disaster; psychotic killers etc.), which make audiences empathise and reflect on their own axietites. Fed Up makes you reflect about the long-term internal threat that audiences are doing to their own bodies by eating such dangerous levels of sugar. The sugar in my tea suddenly felt obscene and frightening….