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Fed Up

Sixty years ago, Fred Flintstone hawked Winston cigarettes. Today, he pitches cereal. And both can kill.

Stephanie Soechtig's rabble-rousing documentary Fed Up argues that it's time to attack Big Sugar just like we successfully demonized Big Tobacco. Narrated by Katie Couric, Fed Up is the first doc of Sundance to stir up an outraged Q&A with attendees agitating for nutritional reform.

The flick starts with a simple question. In 1977, George McGovern introduced the McGovern Report, which outlined healthy dietary goals for the country. Why, then, have Americans gotten fatter - exponentially so, especially the young? In 1980, there were zero cases of childhood type 2 diabetes. In 2010, there were 57,636. Now we have 9- and 10-year-old kids dying of heart attacks and strokes.

Quickly, Soechtig dismisses the common wisdom that fat people are fat because they're gluttonous and lazy. We meet 200-pound-plus kids like 13-year-old Wesley, whose mom monitors his servings of Special K chips, and 12-year-old Maggie, who swims, rows and walks. They're trying, but the scale isn't moving. In my generation, as a child of the '80s, there used to be one or two Maggies in a grade. Now there's a dozen. And the problem started when we tried to get healthy.

Fed Up traces back the last 35 years and makes a convincing case that big business is to blame. The food industry responded to the McGovern Report by flooding the grocery aisles with "healthy" chips, cookies, drinks, and cereals that cut fat while quietly upping the sugar. Since then, sugar consumption has doubled. A breakfast of orange juice and a bowl of processed cereal maxes out our ideal sugar intake for the rest of the day. Sugar increases insulin, insulin increases fat storage. And it's addictive. In a study Soechtig quotes, 93 percent of lab rats chose sugar water over cocaine.

Fed Up is poised to be the Inconvenient Truth of the health movement.

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