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Fed Up is the new documentary that looks at the childhood obesity issue in the US, positing that while the federal government and food manufacturers have taken steps to address the issue, with a much broader focus on reduced fat and low-calories items than ever before, that approach is largely illusory because it has not significantly reduced sugar levels in products. The movie, produced by TV journalist Katie Couric and Laurie David (who also produced ), suggests that when the culture says that if you eat less food in general, eat more low-fat foods, and get more exercise you will lose weight (and if you don't, it somehow is a character failing), it is underestimating the addictive power of sugar and the destructive power of processed foods. And it doesn't just go after the food industry; Fed Up also goes after Michelle Obama, arguing that despite her high-profile efforts to focus attention on childhood obesity, she has allowed herself to be co-opted by big food manufacturers.

I think that is a fair description of the movie's premise. Also to be fair, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which the movie says refused to be interviewed, has quite naturally objected to pretty much everything in the movie - its members make all the products that Fed Up finds so objectionable. It said in a prepared statement that Fed Up "provides an inaccurate view of the packaged food industry.  Rather than identifying successful policies or ongoing efforts to find real and practical solutions to obesity, it adopts a short-sighted, confrontational and misleading approach by cherry-picking facts to fit a narrative, getting the facts wrong, and simply ignoring the progress that has been made over the last decade in providing families with healthier options at home and at school."

Here's what I think.

Fed Up is worth seeing. I'm hardly an absolutist on nutrition issues (I munched - somewhat guiltily - on Twizzlers as the movie started, and had a couple of slices of pizza for dinner), but I found many of its arguments to be persuasive, and all of them worth considering.

I'm not sure that I entirely buy the implication of some sort of conspiracy on the part of the food industry, but the movie is highly effective when its cameras are trained on young people in their early teens who are morbidly obese. Without making a big point of it, we see their parents - also extremely overweight - giving them the worst kinds of fatty foods, with huge bottles of soda on their kitchen counters. There is a suggestion that the parents have less responsibility than food companies for their kids' conditions, and I'm not completely buying that … though there is a high level of ignorance that pervades the attitudes of many of the people portrayed.

Even if you think that Fed Up is full of it, I think it is worth seeing. Hell, I think DVDs of the movie ought to be distributed to every public school in America. And I have to admit that the next time I think about eating certain foods, I'm going to think twice about it … and I'm very glad that I've totally given up soft drinks.

The thing about Fed Up is that there will be scientists who will argue both sides of the controversy. But the bottom line argument - that people need to dramatically cut back on the sugar in their diets, eat less processed food and more whole foods - is, to my mind, hard to dispute. And I think Fed Up lays out its arguments effectively.

I know there are a lot of movie fans in the MNB community, so it may be of some interest to know that Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is celebrating its 50th anniversary. (Just recently, we noted that Blazing Saddles is 40 years old … it is almost incomprehensible that these two movies were produced just a decade apart. They seem like they were made on different planets.)

There is a wonderful essay in The New Yorker about the movie, which is best described as a "nightmare comedy" about nuclear annihilation, starring Peter Sellers (in three roles), George C. Scott (as General Buck Turgidson, who at one point calculates that about in a nuclear war, “I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say that no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops—depending on the breaks") Sterling Hayden and Slim Pickens.

The essay can be read here.

Fabulous movie … and if, for some reason, you've never seen it, you should. It is a seminal piece of moviemaking.

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

KC's View: