‘Fed Up’: Graphics sweeten the bitter food facts
By BILL STAMETS For Sun-Times Media May 22, 2014 2:00PM
‘FED UP’ ★★★
Radius-TWC presents a documentary directed by Stephanie Soechtig. Running time: 95 minutes. Rated PG (for thematic elements including smoking images and brief mild language). Opens Friday at Landmark Century Centre.
Updated: June 24, 2014 6:15AM
‘Fed Up” is an eye-opening documentary that serves up hard-to-swallow news: “By 2010, two out of every three Americans were either overweight or obese” and “more people will die from obesity than starvation.” Director Stephanie Soechtig gathers activists, doctors, kids, lobbyists, parents, politicians, reporters and teachers — all with different stakes.
As in “Tapped,” her 2009 documentary about the bottled water industry, Soechtig creates a compelling mosaic of interlocking forces. Although no overarching conspiracy looms, corporate profits once again underlay the crisis.
Snappy graphics channel the info flow like a sugar rush. Scary music cues are overused. Narrator Katie Couric wisely stays offscreen. That keeps “Fed Up” from feeling like an Oprah special.
Four obese kids supply case studies. No triumphant weight losses ensue. A 212-pound 12-year-old is sadly clueless: “My doctor has said I’m a statistic. I don’t really know what it means. I think it has something to do with my weight.”
Experts debunk the “eat less, exercise more” dogma. Onscreen for seconds, one chart shows obesity increasing at the same rate as health club memberships. Soechtig never doubts the talking heads who claim obesity is a “disease,” there is “food addiction,” and sugar is a “toxin.”
“Our brains are constantly getting hijacked,” warns a doctor who once termed childhood diabetes “genocide.”
“If you want to cure obesity, you have to demonize some food industries,” advocates the author of “Why We Get Fat.” That tactic clearly worked against the tobacco interests. Yet, first lady Michelle Obama touts her Let’s Move! initiative with a dismaying proviso: “This isn’t about demonizing any industry.”
Soon after Soechtig’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, Congress introduced the “Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act.” Concession stands may first feel the impact of “Fed Up.”