Girth of a nation: Fed Up takes on the evils of Big Ag and Fast Food

12.05.2014
Poster from Fed Up

Contemptible commercialism

From the wonderful folks who brought us “An Inconvenient Truth” now comes “Fed Up,” a withering takedown of the food industry and its predatory ways.

The villains this time are not CO2 and the extraction industries but the agricultural special interests and food manufacturers whose output of slickly marketed highly sugary, overly sodium-enriched and chemically processed foods have led to the obesity crisis and all its attendant ills and costs.

Narrated by Katie Couric with talking-head appearances from well-known medical professionals and policy makers (is there anything Bill Clinton can’t or won’t opine on?), the film is veritable smorgasbord of nutrition-science denialism and greedy corporate politics that, like Big Tobacco, put profits and subsidies ahead of public health.

Interspersed between the stomach-turning statistics are the stories of four obese teens, who despite their best efforts (and one bariatric surgery), remain powerless before the amplitude of toxic foods that surround them every day.

But beyond the agit-prop, engaging graphics and content curation, I have to ask: who is intended audience for this film. The worried well like the two self-described foodies sitting behind me in the theatre and debating whether or not the popcorn was genetically modified? Or those truly at risk (or responsible) for obesity-related disease? Who will be most receptive to the message and inspired to act? How do you incentivize the big feeders into changing their ways? How do we reach, support and empower those who most need it to change their behaviors? (Certainly not at $11/ticket with all the snacks and soda you can eat.)

At the very least, the MPAA can change the film’s rating. Fed Up” warrants a PG because it shows cigarette smoking (and a gently “obscene” image in the poster). Seriously. Talk about penny wise and way too many pounds foolish.

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