Sundance ’14 Doc Spotlight: FED UP

It may not be apparent here on my blog, but I am deeply fascinated by the role that food plays in the American life. I have read several books on food origins and what some think constitutes the best way to approach shopping for groceries as well as consuming said food for you and your family. Previously I touched upon this in my review of the documentary Forks Over Knives.

So you can imagine my excitement at the prospect of catching the premiere of Laurie David/Katie Couric collaboration Fed Up, which aims to identify and cast a light on the real cause of the expanding waistlines of American youth.


It’s what’s for lunch (at our nation’s schools)

Fed Up is an entertaining and informative documentary that follows the stories of “average” American adolescents and their struggle with food, while also examining the responsibility of food companies in perpetuating the problem.

Director Stephanie Soechtig follows the young people from their homes to school. It is evident that the parents, while having the best interests of their children at heart, are through no fault of their own as naive and ill-informed concerning the consequences of some of the food choices they have made as their children who are fighting (and seemingly losing) the battle of the bulge.

In interviews, leading health and medical experts as well as food advocates also offer well-informed insight on this topic that not only has grave consequences for the weight of the nation but also the wealth of the nation.

Loaded with wonderfully interactive infographics and animations, Fed Up deftly explains complex medical and physiological topics into ‘digestible’ pieces that the target audience can easily understand.

Most shocking learning moment? The very depressing statistic that in 30 years, the US has gone from 0 diagnosed cases of adult-onset (Type II) diabetes in adolescents to over 60,000. What astounds me about this fact is that is not taking into account all the many young people out there who are not charting their health with doctors. And this is clearly the case when you factor in the socio-economics of this crisis.

This actually leads me to one quibble I have with the film. While it did a good job of identifying and discussing the problem and possible solutions, the one area that I felt the film was deficient was in the exposition of the aforementioned social and economic issues surrounding this health emergency. The concept of “food deserts” was only briefly touched upon; however I felt there was a little more there that could have been discussed, since on its on first sight, the people most directly affected by this crisis tend to be classed as economically disadvantaged. But I guess at the end of the day, as the film explains, this problem spans all strata of society, with much of the confusion having to do a lot with us relying on the food industry to honestly inform us about leading healthy lifestyles.

And let’s remember, this is not a problem just reserved for good ole USA. As we as a nation continue to export foodstuffs around the globe, the phenomenon we are grappling with here is creeping its way onto the plates of the world.

As the film draws to a conclusion, there is a call to action on the part of the filmmakers for all of us to take on the challenges together.


Images provided by the Sundance Institute.


  1. Hi, iluv:

    I question the validity and bona fides of a documentary that has either Laurie David or Katie Couric’s name(s) attached to it. But that’s just me. Well over fifty, single, single. And only in a hospital for my birth, ruptured appendix and a hernia.

    Kids and adults love greasy, sometimes crappy food(s). Which are bombarded through television screens throughout Prime Time and beyond every night.

    It’s all in the balance of intake and exertion to burn off calories afterwards. Where today’s kids prefer computer games to physical games, playing and sports. And an area where the federal government should not stick its unwanted nose. Which may explain the current First Lady’s media blitz on health and “healthy” school lunches is such an abysmal failure. Again. My own opinion.

    • Certainly the filmmakers knew that this film would be cause for debate – I think that is a great thing. My interest actually goes beyond the film as it is something that I have studied and read up on for years based on my understanding of my own relationship with food.

      You make an astute point about gov’t intervention but I think it goes beyond that and we need to look at food manufacturers (that term in of itself should give one pause) and be more well versed ourselves about what we are eating.

      End of day it is about being aware of what you eat and balancing that with other aspects of living a healthy lifestyle.

      That said, I think you should still watch it anyway.

  2. Great find. Informative yet depressing, but all-the-more necessary. Will try to check it out “ilc!”
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