I finally got a chance to watch the documentary “Fed Up” a few days ago. I’d been wanting to watch it forever, but when I was having a sugar craving that I knew I should ignore during my daughter’s nap, I figured I needed a little logical reinforcement for ignoring the impulse to grab some chocolate. And it totally worked!
There is all sorts of research lately telling us why sugar is so bad, yet we continue to eat it. And eat more and more of it. And it’s not helping our waist lines. Over 50% of Americans are now either “overweight” or “obese”. Isn’t that crazy? And type two diabetes is becoming more and more common, especially in children. Sugar clearly isn’t good for our weight or health, but we keep coming back for more. Why?
As some of you may know, it’s because it’s so addictive. In fact, according to the documentary, sugar is actually eight times more addictive than cocaine. When we have it, we want to keep going back for more. Our body becomes wired to ask for more. And food companies know it! They add sugar to products all the time. In fact, in grocery stores, there are typically around 600,000 products available for purchase, and 80% of those foods have added sugar! That’s crazy.
Additionally, even when people are informed, and well intentioned, trying to make good decisions, it’s still hard. Sugar isn’t always just labeled on foods as sugar. It has tons of different names, including maltrose, dextrose, lactose, etc. Totally deceptive! It’s no wonder that the average American is consuming more than 40 teaspoons of sugar each day (which is almost six times what’s recommended).
So how are these companies allowed to get away with it? The long answer is probably quite intricate and complex, but the short answer is money. Money talks, and money influences policy, and money keeps the truth hidden when it’s convenient for it stay hidden. For example, it’s been well documented that health insurance companies buy huge amounts of stock in fast food companies. Win win for them, but the rest of us lose big time!
The filmmakers interviewed Bill Clinton, who admitted that we have been “insufficiently alert” to the long term problems caused by sugar addictions. No kidding! But despite all of this, I think the tide is turning. I think more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of processed foods and the sugar that lurks there. I think more people are getting mad about the state of food in our country, and more people are fighting back. One of the best things we can do, everyday, is vote with our dollar. As I said, money talks. If we start buying local, buying unprocessed or minimally processed foods, buying more fresh produce, things will change. I have to believe they will, because the alternative is unacceptable.