7 Shocking Things I Learned From Fed Up
Over the years we have heard a lot about the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States. But Fed Up, a new documentary produced and narrated by Katie Couric, suggests that we’ve been battling this disease in all the wrong ways.
Instead of blaming a lack of will power and pushing kids to exercise more, Fed Up puts the responsibility squarely on the sugary processed foods so many kids and families rely on for their daily nutrition.
The doc follows four overweight children who are struggling with their weight, and, frankly, it’s heartbreaking. These kids desperately want to be healthy and accepted by the other students at school. They are afraid of getting diabetes or cancer or even dying young. But they are confronted at every turn—at school, at home, on TV, and online—by the foods that are making them fat. As one of the kids says, alcoholics don’t have to keep liquor in the house, but everyone needs to eat.
Here are just a few of the shocking things I learned while watching:
A calorie is not a calorie. One hundred and sixty calories of almonds is not equal to 160 calories of soda. One provides healthy fats, vitamins, and fiber. The other is absorbed instantly by the liver and turned immediately to fat. Guess which is which.
Based on lab studies, sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine. For this reason alone parents should go easy on the added sugars given to babies and toddlers. The more sugar kids consume at this age, the more they’ll crave it as they grow up.
In 1980 there were no reported cases of Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. In 2010, that number was 57,638.
There are 600,000 packaged food items in America. Eighty percent of them contain added sugar. As Dr. Robert Lustig recently told Parents, naturally occurring sugars in fruits are perfectly healthy since they come with fiber to balance it out. But most added sugars enter our bodies with little fiber and go straight to our liver where they’re turned into fat.
One can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, and 80% of America’s public schools have a deal with Coke or Pepsi. Mark Bittman, New York Times columnist, calls soda “the cigarettes of the 21st century.”
When it comes to school lunches the federal government considers tomato paste a vegetable; thus a slice of pizza can help meet a lunch’s produce requirement. I love pizza, but it doesn’t look like a vegetable to me.
It is possible to be “TOFI”, or thin on the outside and fat on the inside. Meaning, thin people who eat junk food are still at risk for major health problems.
What does this mean for me and you and our families? The prescription is simple: eat more real food. Cook at home and rely less on processed foods that are typically sugar-laden and nutrient-poor. Home-cooked food doesn’t need to take a long time or be fancy. Here are some of my favorite recipes from Parents.com:
Fed Up opens in movie theaters today. Learn more about the film and how we can feed our kids better.
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