Review: "Fed Up" Gives Americans An Inside Look At The Food Industry

Rachel Smith ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Former President Bill Clinton in Fed Up. Photo Credit: Radius-TWC.
Former President Bill Clinton in Fed Up. Photo Credit: Radius-TWC.


This documentary is brought to you by Executive Producers Katie Couric and An Inconvenient Truth, Laurie David. Couric acts as narrator for the film and has the perfect dramatic tone for the films content. The content, you might wonder, is unveiling all the terrifying facts about the foods Americans are encouraged to eat by the government and food industry. The overarching theme is that they are trying to slowly kill people to make a buck.

It opens with a montage of commercials and overweight people in the media, i.e. “Honey Boo Boo” child star Alana Thompson. Couric explains that the “epidemic” of overweight children is used as entertainment. No offense to the honey boo boo family but it’s actually true. The media makes it entertaining to see the overeating and terrible health habits but it’s actually a huge problem for kids in the United States.

Popular documentaries Super Size Me and Food Inc. have set their objective for people to start really thinking about the food they put in their body. This film does a great job of giving actual numerical values of obesity rates, food industry earnings and the percentages of the actual contents in the food people eat regularly.

A still from Fed Up. Photo Credit: Radius-TWC.
A still from Fed Up. Photo Credit: Radius-TWC.

The numbers are pretty jarring but the heart breaking, eye-catching piece of the documentary are the real life accounts of 4 kids who are over weight and trying to figure out how to lead healthier lives. They have been told all the wrong information according to nutrition experts, psychologists and scientists that were also interviewed for the film. They acknowledge the idea that doctors are telling people to eat less and exercise more. This simple solution will never work for these kids.

They document the kids going to doctor’s appointments and being told that they are losing no weight and they will die if they don’t make a change. These kids are facing death at the ripe age of 13-15 but they aren’t being told the right information to save themselves.

The film goes into the details of “reduced fat” and “low calorie” foods being almost worse for people because the companies are replacing fat with sugar. They compare soda to cigarettes in terms of how they’re advertised and sold. Commercials with celebrities present soda in a positive light but they are basically causing diabetes, which can lead to further health complications.

A still from Fed Up. Photo Credit: Radius-TWC.
A still from Fed Up. Photo Credit: Radius-TWC.

A huge part of this film is the government’s involvement with obesity. They interview former president Bill Clinton and he says that he wished his administration did more but he just didn’t know. The reason for this is because the government rewrote and covered up a document called the McGovern Report from the 1970’s that advised the FDA to put information on food. Specifically, percentages on foods content and there should be limits on how much sugar people should be consuming. The food industry knew this would mean huge losses so they mandated to put percentages on all contents except sugar. In 2014, sugar is still the only thing on the dietary information list that does not have a government advisory percentage on the packaging. This might sound simple but the way it’s presented in the film, you’ll feel like Nicholas Cage in National Treasure, unveiling terrifying secrets but unfortunately there is no grand reward.

They then shed a light on the fact that one of the only positive things coming out of the Obama administration is Michelle Obama’s campaign to improve kids eating habits in schools. You’ve heard about it and think it’s this wonderful thing but the film goes into the details, the average person wouldn’t notice.

They show her advisors avoiding food questions in interviews and how the campaign started with healthier foods but has transformed into kids exercising. They suspect it was from pressure from the food industry.

A still from Fed Up. Photo Credit: Radius-TWC.
A still from Fed Up. Photo Credit: Radius-TWC.

They then use the kid’s footage to show her campaign isn’t actually working.  The kids are still being offered and eating terrible foods at school. Their schools serve pizza, fries and burgers everyday at lunch. They have one healthy option that tastes terrible so obviously they are picking the bad foods.

They have the kids doing their own at home footage as well and they are upset that they get made fun of for their weight but they just can’t figure out how to be healthier. You feel for the kids and wonder what they can do but then they also have the parents interviewed.

They are all over weight and seem to be passing down these bad habits to their kids. One mother says it is cheaper to buy the bad food so that’s a lot of her problem trying to keep her son healthy. Another set of parents says that it is part of there heritage to be “big and beautiful” Their son was 400 lbs at 14 years old and at the end of the film was going in for lap band surgery to control his weight.

Stephanie Soechtig, Katie Couric, and Bill Clinton behind the scenes in Fed Up. Photo Credit: Radius-TWC.
Stephanie Soechtig, Katie Couric, and Bill Clinton behind the scenes in Fed Up. Photo Credit: Radius-TWC.

The film doesn’t have the disgusting factor that Super Size Me did but it is more relatable which seems to make it even more terrifying. You will feel angry at the food companies for lying to you. You will feel angry at the government for allowing the companies to lie to you. You will feel so bad for these kids that are struggling with obesity at such a young age. You can feel how helpless they are in this upheld battle against their own bodies. You will also feel empowered to take the documentaries challenge.

It ends with a challenge to the viewer. The first is to go 10 days without sugar. If that doesn’t seem like a viable option then they advise you to look at the labels of the foods you’re eating. They also challenge you not to eat things off the kids’ menu and to not let your kids eat from the kids’ menu.

This movie should be shown in every classroom across the country and should be shown to every person planning on having kids. Children should know what they are putting in their bodies and parents should be responsible for what diet they let their kids grow up on. This isn’t a vendetta against all the snacks and delicious things in the world, it is a call to action for people to be more informed and hopefully live healthier lives.

Overall Grade: A-


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