Think you know how to live a healthy life? Fed Up, a comprehensive, 98-minute investigation into how sugar became so prevalent in everything we eat and drink, might make you think again. Co-produced by Katie Couric and Laurie David, producer of An Inconvenient Truth, the film explores how not just food manufacturers, but law makers and physicians have allowed sugar to infiltrate almost everything we put in our bodies. The film, which will be released in theaters in select cities on May 9, will also be sent to schools around the country, along with a viewing guide for teachers and students. Here are seven lessons Couric and her team hope people will remember after seeing the documentary.
1. Why there is a difference between eating an orange and drinking orange juice when it comes to the amount of sugar your body sees
Eating sugar-containing foods along with fiber can slow down the body’s sponging up of the sweet stuff; overwhelming the body with sugar makes it turn more of it into fat.
2. The war on fat only made us fatter
When food makers took out fat in foods like cookies and snacks, they added in sugar.
3. Yogurt contains as much sugar as some candy
Food makers know that we tend to buy sweeter things, and they’re adding sugar in almost everything, including presumably healthy foods like yogurt.
4. Sugar is sugar is sugar
High fructose corn syrup, raw sugar, cane sugar – the body treats them all the same, turning most of it into fat. High fructose corn syrup and sugar, says Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics at University of California San Francisco, are “both equally bad.”
5. Starches are sugars in disguise
White bread, white rice, potatoes and cereals turn into sugar in your body. “You can eat a bowl of corn flakes with no added sugar, or you can eat a bowl or sugar with no added corn flakes; they might taste different but below the neck, they’re metabolically the same,” says. Dr. David Ludwig, a professor at Harvard Medical School.
6. Follow the money
Soda and food manufacturers often fund studies on nutrition, as well as pay doctors, so not all scientific-sounding studies or experts may be objective.
7. The fox is guarding the henhouse
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is responsible for overseeing and subsidizing the agricultural industry – which supplies the nation with corn, meat and poultry – and with issuing nutritional guidelines that are used in schools and government food programs. Conflict, anyone?
The film comes with a challenge – to give up sugar for 10 days to see how ubiquitous it is in your lives. In schools, the filmmakers hope students and parents will convince principals and school boards to provide healthier, sugar-free meals in cafeterias. Getting fed up, they say, is just the start.