“Fed Up” is a documentary by Stephanie Soechtig and executive producers Katie Couric and Laurie David. It aims to shed light on the growing obesity epidemic (especially the childhood obesity epidemic), flesh out the real cause, and offer practical solutions. 

Everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong. FED UP is the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see. From Katie Couric, Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH) and director Stephanie Soechtig, FED UP will change the way you eat forever.

I first heard about this documentary a few months ago and immediately put it on my “watch and review” list. It sounded good and featured some of the leading alternative-voice doctors and researches. 

Before I get to the review, I want to preface this with a couple comments:

  • I did not research the documentary prior to watching it nor did I read other reviews of it.
  • I wrote the notes for the review in real time. I’m not going back to parse every little detail and get every quote exactly right. If something is in quotations, assume that’s roughly what was said.
  • I’m highly skeptical of anything produced by Katie Couric or Laurie David. We don’t need to get into it here, but I thought you should know. I am capable, however, of judging each piece of work objectively on its own merits. I think you’ll find this to be a very unbiased review. When I pressed play I wasn’t expecting to like it or dislike it. I thought little more than, “let’s see what we have here.”

Okay, let’s start.

My Review (and alternative solution) of “Fed Up”

I’d like to set the stage for this review by giving you the base conclusion: The first 60 minutes of Fed Up are highly educational and will shift the perspective of anyone currently operating on mainstream information. The final 30 minutes is a sales video for Big Government, a hit piece aimed at Big Agriculture, and a total failure in terms identifying the most practical solution for the end viewer (I will disclose the real solution in this review).

Chain of Events: I’ve sketched out what I believe are the eight main topics presented in Fed Up:

  • Calories-in, Calories-out.
  • Food industry spin and what we should really focus on.
  • The hyper-palatability of processed food.
  • Michelle Obama’s fight to end the epidemic.
  • School lunches.
  • Marketing junk food to kids.
  • The cost of medical intervention.
  • The role of government in ending the epidemic.

Anecdotes: Fed Up follows four different kids who serve as anecdotes and appeals to emotion throughout the film:

  • Brady Kluge
  • Maggie Valentine
  • Wesley Randall
  • Joe Lopez

The distribution is pretty solid. Three boys, one girl. Two whites, one hispanic, and one black. Cultural norms do come into play when discussing obesity, so it’s important that they chose anecdotes from a good distribution. 

Act 1: Calories-in, Calories-Out

Fed Up’s first section tackles the concept of “eat less, move more” and does a fantastic job laying waste to this outdated concept. They show the correlation between the doubling of the fitness industry and the doubling of obesity rates.

They point out that 2/3 of Americans were overweight or obese a decade after the fitness revolution started (when before, they weren’t). And they do a great job of making sure to note that obesity rates are skyrocketing across the globe, not just in the U.S.

The point isn’t that the fitness industry is responsible, it’s that food quality is more important than quantity and exercise.

Brady Kluge and Maggie Valentine are the main anecdotes for this section. Maggie notes how her doctor told her to eat less, exercise more, and join Weight Watchers (shoot me). She’s disappointed because she’s too young to join Weight Watchers and was also rejected by a nutritionist her mom took her to because of her age.

“We know we have the tools. We know what to do.” After facing rejecting from the nutritionist, Maggie’s mom insists that they’ll solve the problem on their own. “Cereal by nature is low in fat. Cereal is a good go-to for pretty much any meal replacement.” It’s clear that Maggie’s mom does not have the solution.

Maggie — legitimately sad and depressed — exclaims, “I’m not sure why I’m not losing weight now that I’m eating healthy and exercising!” She’s been obese since before the age of eight. The anecdote is a good one. You can’t help but feel that the world around Maggie has let her down and it’s certainly not her fault.

Gary Taubes — author of Why We Get Fat and a researcher featured in Fed Up — nails it when he says, “We’re blaming the wrong things and it’s a crime. The kids are doing what we tell them, but we’re telling them the wrong things.”

Act 2: Food industry spin and what we should really focus on

We don’t make it too far into Fed Up before the spotlight is turned on the food industry.

The film points out that much of the cited research that becomes government policy is funded by Big Agriculture and processed food manufacturers. They point to research funded by Coca-Cola that claimed soft drinks have nothing to do with the obesity epidemic.

Next, they bring on Dr. David Allison, a medical doctor bought and paid for by soft drink companies, who once attempted to make the case that the evidence linking soft drinks and obesity is not solid. They show a clip of him struggling to answer a question, making him look like a fool.

I’m no fan of Big Agriculture, processed food manufacturers, or David Allison. Fed Up does a great job of laying out an important point here, though half of the point is missed in the conclusion presented later. And I’m sure that their editing of the David Allison interview made his confusion seem much worse than it was.

Moving along…

It’s at this point that we’re introduced to Wesley Randall, an obese black kid who is being questioned by his mother after school. “What did you have for lunch today?” Wesley replies, while snacking on Special K cereal, “Hamburger, french fries, chocolate milk, and juice.” “Milk and juice?”, his mom asks. “They serve us both,” he says.

Her focus on milk and juice is interesting. While certainly not productive choices, she seems to miss the desire to question the main course. Is that because she thinks a hamburger and french fries are acceptable? I don’t know, but I do know that Wesley didn’t buy the Special K cereal he’s currently wolfing down, which contrary to popular belief is a nutritional nightmare.

The producers do ask her about her efforts, which only leads to more confusion on my part. “We limit our starches and breads (she apparently doesn’t realize Special K is a starch), we eat healthier snacks (not that I saw), and we eat lean hot pockets instead of regular hot pockets (facepalm).”

As we look at the epidemic of health, the epidemic of misinformation is even more obvious. In all four households highlighted, the parents are operating on information that is putting their children at risk. They’re ground zero. And all of the parents are obese as well.

Wesley’s mom also notes, “It’s more expensive to buy healthier food. Chips and cereal are cheaper.” Of course, this is only an illusion, as I pointed out in “Eating Healthy is Too Expensive” is a Lame, Shallow Excuse

Fed Up compares two meals side by side to show that eating healthy is actually not more expensive in many cases, except they include four slices of whole grain bread in the “healthy” meal. Oops. I guess they didn’t interview Gary Taubes long enough. And while they did manage to find one example meal that’s cheaper, by and large, the financial outlay for eating healthier IS greater when only comparing food costs.

Thankfully, they do touch on the fact that none of this is about genetics and they score big with the statistic that in 1980 there were zero cases of adolescent type II diabetes versus 57,638 cases in 2010. And they do a good job connecting this to the low-fat dogma and the government food pyramid.

But, back to the food industry we go…

Fed Up highlights the rejection of the McGovern report by Big Agriculture, showing how the guidelines were revised to focus on buying leaner products with less fat. The consequence of this was the explosion of low fat, high sugar products and a doubling of America’s sugar intake between 1977 and 2000.

Another doctor, Dr. Hyman, makes the important statement that sugar is toxic — though it has a safe threshold — and that the behaviors we associate with obesity (lack of willpower, lack of self-control, sedentism, etc.) are the result of the obesity cycle, not the cause. That’s a HUGE point that I’m glad wasn’t left on the editing room floor.

Fed Up also does a great job making the case that sugar consumption isn’t just about cookies and cakes. It’s about processed starches and the fact that there are 60,000 processed food products and 80% of them have added sugar. Almost all of them contain highly processed starches. I believe it was Dr. Hyman who returned to say, “You can eat a bowl of corn flakes with no added sugar or you can eat a bowl of sugar with no added cornflakes. Metabolically, they’re the same.” Powerful illustration.

Enter Joe Lopez.

Joe is a 14 year old obese hispanic kid who is hovering close to 400 pounds. His dad says that “The family has always been heavy. I guess it’s culture.” He comments that his mother, Joe’s Grandmother, had a rule that you had to clean your plate before leaving the table.

Joes mom adds, “Big is beautiful for the hispanic family.” Nothing Joe is saying is very telling. The parents, on the other hand, are digging themselves further and further in a hole. Joe’s dad offers, “I’m not to blame. If I didn’t give him the food, others would. I wish I had control over it, but I don’t.”

In my estimation, the obesity epidemic has little to do with culture and more to do with parental leadership and excuse-making. The “clean your plate” rule is a good example, and I’ve outlined more at Reboot Your Kids. But this family is a perfect example of how well excuses flow and how responsibility is conveniently overlooked.

As you’ll see, and as Fed Up pretends to miss, everything can be traced back to family (and it has nothing to do with culture). Food manufacturers, school lunches, food prices, politics — they’re all scapegoats. 

Act 3: The hyper-palatability of processed food

There’s a lot more solid education throughout section three. Fed Up cites the cocaine-rat study, which found that 40 of 43 cocaine addicted rats switched to and preferred sugar water over cocaine when given the choice and experienced binge eating, cravings, and withdrawal when sugar was withheld.

I don’t know how viable that study is. Frankly, I don’t care. It wouldn’t change the scope of the conversation either way.

One important point was made in this section: that we’re getting kids addicted to sugar as infants, starting with baby formula. To Fed Up, this is a Big Agriculture conspiracy to create future customers. Maybe they’re right, but I don’t think it’s a helpful theory in terms of finding solutions. Babies don’t buy formula, they don’t require formula, and formula manufacturers don’t force you to buy it.

Yes, I understand that not everyone can breast feed. But the majority of kids are given formula for no other reason than parental choice, not dictated by any limitations on breast milk supply.

The section closes by documenting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of no more than 10% of calories from sugar on a daily basis versus the sugar industry’s suggestion of 25%. I was surprised — and glad — to see that Fed Up had the balls to note that both Republicans and Democrats shot down the WHO recommendations and chose to protect Big Agriculture instead. Conveniently, this is left out in the conclusion. 

Also highlighted was the fact that the American government extorted the WHO by withholding over 400 million dollars in funding until they agreed to pull their report. They definitively state that the government is both complacent and complicit in the obesity epidemic.

Well done. For now.

Act 4: Michelle Obama

Truthfully, this section is a lot of wish-wash between praise for Michelle Obama and disappointment that she hasn’t done more.

I do want to highlight one fantastic point that eventually gets lost in the conclusion: Michelle allowed food manufacturers to partner with her, talked the country into believing they could make helpful changes, and then used those changes (which weren’t helpful) as a marketing tool to sell more reformulated processed foods.

Keep that mind for later.

Another point I’ll add here: Food companies desperately want the conversation to center around calories and sedentism. It’s the only avenue they have. If the discussion and the public’s scrutiny EVER turns to ingredients (like I want it to), they’re finished. Thankfully, the government, including Michelle Obama, wholly cooperates in the calorie/sedentism myth.

Also pointed out in this section is the conflict of interest the USDA (the government) has. On the one hand, they promote low fat and low sugar for better health. On the other hand, they’ve given the corn industry (which makes corn based sweeteners) 8 billion dollars in subsidies and bragged about the sales growth of full fat cheeses by participating in the push to sneak cheese products into everything. 

Cheese production, of course, skyrocketed when low fat milk was introduced because the fat that was being skimmed off the milk had to be used for something. That’s not to say that cheese is bad — it’s not — it just shows the blatant conflict of interest and the unintended consequences of government promoting and creating policy around bad science.

Act 5: School lunches

Next, the focus turns to the quality of school lunches and points that government schools (just called schools in Fed Up), serve the food industry more than the health of students and are ruled by fast food companies.

Notables:

  • In 2006, 80% of all [government] high schools operated under exclusive contract with soda companies. In 2012, more than 50% of school districts served branded fast food.
  • Harry Truman signed the school lunch act in 1946 to end malnutrition issues faced by military recruits (wowzers).
  • In 2010, Obama signed the Healthy, Hungry Free Kids Act. A Democrat senator from Minnesota lobbied to protect pizza on the school lunch menu on behalf of a corporation who supplies 70% of pizza to schools. The defense was that a slice of pizza should be counted as a vegetable. Brilliant.
  • In 2012, the standards were revised. Lunch budgets were increased by six cents (yes, six cents) per child, focused on calorie limits (tada!), and still include french fries and pizza as vegetables.

Does it bother you that school lunches were tied to military initiatives or that every decision made about your children’s health by government is tied to how much money they’ll get from X industry? That’s what we should really be FED UP about.

Act 6: Marketing junk food to Kids

I think we’re at about the hour mark now if I remember correctly. This is where Fed Up turns from solid educational programming to misguided, biased activism.

The focus is placed heavily on the role of government in regulating food companies. The villain cited from here on out is the marketing of junk food to children. 

The government — which is magically relieved of all its “complacency and complicity” by three clicks of Katie Couric’s heels — is now shown to have tried to stop this advertising epidemic since the 70s. And it’s the food manufacturers who have shot them down.

Couric wants you to believe that the government is on your side and food manufacturers are against you. And the government — which is all powerful, even possessing a monopoly on violence — was forced to bow down to the money of the food manufacturers. This toddler-like fantasy plays out over and over again.

In 2004, our Congressional heroes tried to band together yet again to fight the Big Food advertising monster, only to be defeated a second time by the almighty food industry. Shucks!

“Companies say they can regulate themselves and they can’t!” exclaims someone I can’t remember. “The fox is guarding the hen house!”

Eh, not really. If you want the truth, it’s this: Parents are [failing at] guarding the hen house, willingly paying the fox, and the fox is paying the government who cashes the checks and then pretends to be outraged.

Fed Up makes the case that every time the good guys in government try to come in with regulations, the food manufacturers and right-wingers cry about the “Nanny State.” 

The section ends with Fed Up removing responsibility entirely from parents, schools, and everyone else and placing it squarely on food manufacturers. This leads nicely into act seven and eight, where Fed Up attempts a hard sell on government as the only solution.

Act 7: The cost of medical intervention

Our focus is now turned to the cost of this epidemic. Weight loss surgeries have increased five fold since 2001, a statistic that’s used to make this statement: “We’ll send our kids to have mutilating procedures but lack the political will to properly fund school nutrition and ban junk food advertising to children. We’ve placed private profit ahead of public health.”

This is both a straw man and a false dichotomy. Properly funding school nutrition has nothing to do with the obesity epidemic, nor does junk food advertising. Those things certainly don’t help, but they’re far from a cause.

Food manufacturers would certainly be to blame if they were somehow limiting the supply of real food. They’re not. The only entity doing that is government.

Interspersed between dogmatic statements about our virtuous government is an important highlight on TOFIs (Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside). They note that 40% of non-obese people have the same metabolic disorders and future medical outcomes as obese people, just with no visible symptoms.

Almost all children who are TOFI are pre-diabetic. This is a fact that is lost on the majority of the population, so I’m glad they made it.

Mostly, this section is a tie-in to the final act, where doom and gloom scenarios are intermixed with “what if we take government action?” motivational cues. 

Act 8: Government to the rescue.

I knew that with Katie Couric and Laurie David at the helm, education and a sensible, practical solution couldn’t coexist in the same documentary.

The final act of Fed Up is a government love affair. And they use Big Tobacco to highlight the government’s success at using taxation, warning labels, and regulations to squash public health crises caused by big bad business.

Katie Couric slips up when speaking about warning labels and says, “but WE didn’t stop there” when introducing taxation as a successful deterrent to tobacco use. “We” is used because Katie identifies and aligns herself with government regulations and intervention. It’s been her preferred solution for everything I’ve ever seen her talk about.

They tie in Big Tobacco by insisting that food manufacturers are behaving just like Big Tobacco. 

There are two big problems with this. One, Tobacco is still not heavily regulated. And two, tobacco use most likely plummeted due to the simple fact that people became educated and decided they didn’t want to die. Not because of a warning label and a special tax, but because of actually being witness to the destruction. 

“Tobacco remains the least regulated product that Americans consume,” said Matt Myers of the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“What has changed over the years is that no member of Congress wants to be associated with a tobacco company, but that doesn’t mean they won’t take their campaign contributions, fly on their jets and do their bidding behind closed doors,” Myers said.

The government is still in bed with the tobacco industry. That’s because the government is in bed with everyone. But that doesn’t stop Katie from giving them credit. “Where would we be if we hadn’t acted?” And she carries this on to the obesity epidemic: “Where will the soldiers and first responders come from when everyone has obesity related diseases?”

That’s a popular appeal to emotion. Many industries will be greatly affected by the obesity epidemic, but Katie — just like a politician — chooses “heroes” to use as examples. Will you let our heroes die?

Elementary nonsense.

“What if every can of soda had a warning label? What if fast food chains were BANNED from public schools? What if you could see the percentage of RDA of sugar on labels? What if celebrities had to pitch a vegetable every time they pitched a soft drink? How many lives could we save?”

She turns to Bill Clinton, who offers, “I think the government has a leading role to play here.”

Again, it’s a false dichotomy filled with straw men. They’re solutions that sound good and do nothing. There’s a practical solution staring us in the face. But first, we have to get some things out of the way.

Conclusion and a Practical Solution

At the end of the film, we return to Brady and his family as they make a push to remove sugar and processed foods from their life. Armed with the right information, they charge forward.

Brady’s mom highlights how great she feels and offers, “The most important thing you can do for your family is cook real food.” She’s started to make sense now.

After 6 months, she’s lost 60 pounds and is off her high blood pressure meds. Dad has lost 36 pounds and Brady has lost 27. 

But wait! There’s a dramatic turn of events that PROVES government is the only solution.

A few months later, Brady had gained the weight back. The case is made that our environment, filled with processed foods and junk food advertising, is impossible to deal with. Without government, people like Brady just can’t be successful long term.

The next screen begins to list all the food companies who declined to be interviewed. Note that Michelle Obama is also on the list (near the end).

So what’s the solution?

All I can do is tell you the truth. You’re free to disagree, but I’ve been thinking about, debating, and philosophizing on these issues for over a decade and my recommendations are based on legitimate principles that you would certainly agree with if we had time to parse them all here.

The obesity epidemic is not a DIRECT result of food manufacturers or junk food advertising. It’s not a DIRECT result of poor quality school lunches. It’s not a DIRECT result of profit. It’s not a DIRECT result of laziness or a lackadaisical nature of obese people.

Here are the three main direct causes:

  • Misinformation. Parents mislead their children because they’re misled (mostly by government and the government-influenced medical community). The smoking example was a good one. Nobody knew how bad smoking was, then we knew, and even though we were addicted, we’ve mostly quit. And the more we see that psychology is just as important in fighting food addiction and obesity, the better off we’ll be.
  • Parental leadership. Being misled is only an excuse if you continue to fight to search for answers. Being complacent or accepting defeat makes the problem your fault. Also, you can’t complain about school lunches when you send your children to public school, which is a horrific place on many other counts. Food advertising doesn’t matter if your TV doesn’t also double as your child’s babysitter. The surplus of fake food available in grocery stores has no bearing on whether or not that food enters your home, nor does it prevent you from supplying your family with real food. I could go on — there are many ways parents can take responsibility for this issue that they’re avoiding (and that Fed Up avoided because it didn’t fit their political agenda).
  • Government. Their authority and policies of those in government are the most direct cause of the epidemic. They’ve subsidized fake food, they’ve miseducated the population, they’ve promoted bad science, they’ve designed the school lunch menus, they’ve manipulated the issue, they’ve extorted the WHO, they’ve certified the doctors, they’ve signed the contracts with Big Food, they’ve attacked local farmers, they’ve destroyed real food, they’ve funded the bad science, they’ve created the medical standards, they’ve given special treatment and protection to food manufacturers, they’ve profited from both sides of the issue (cause and prevention), and they’ve cashed a hell of a lot of lobbying checks in the process. Anyone who cares to look at this objectively can see that government is a dumpster fire. Where most people would see schizophrenia, Katie Couric sees a clear solution!

In Playing Politics With Food: Why Consumers Are Losing I outlined precisely why food manufacturers are NOT to blame and why we should stop hoping for the government to magically do the right thing when they’re incentivized to protect the status quo. Most importantly, I outlined why you should stop believing that the government gives half a **** about your health. 

The food manufacturers DO — at some level — care about your health. And the more YOU care about your own health, the more they’ll care because they need to earn your dollars. Also keep in mind that “Big Agriculture” and “Big Food” is a product of government (along with Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, the military industrial complex, and on and on). Without government, we’d be dealing with much smaller, less powerful private organizations who are more in tune with earning dollars.

The government, on the other hand, just takes your dollars by force. They also take dollars from food companies by force (making food more expensive). They don’t care what you think either way. And without government, the food manufacturers wouldn’t be able to produce junk so cheaply, avoid lawsuits, create monopolies, and play all the other games afforded to them by the existence of politicians who love inflating their personal bank accounts.

The government steals from you directly, steals from the food companies directly, and then gets paid off by food companies for special treatment. Then, when you get sick (at the hands of their misinformation campaigns, bad science, and unjust regulations), they get paid off by the medical community. And they’re now moving toward profiting from ALL your healthcare needs. All under the guise that they’re magically virtuous and immune to doing bad things. Everything is for your wellbeing, you see.

It’s the fairy tale I’m most tired of. Most angry about. And most interested in doing away with.

Truth: You don’t need the government to babysit your kids. You don’t need warning labels. You don’t need to be punished with special taxes. You don’t need food manufacturers to be banned from advertising. You don’t need to give up more of your freedoms in return for health laws aimed at pseudo-issues that continue to hide the truth.

Here’s how you can take action immediately to solve this issue in your own home:

  1. Learn the truth (that’s what we do here) and act on it.
  2. Take responsibility for the outcome of your immediate family and stop worrying about what everyone else does and thinks.
  3. Stop playing the victim card, pointing fingers, and placing your hope in empty suits in Washington (like Fed Up wants you to do). BE the change you want to see in the world.

It’s fairly simple, though I do acknowledge that it’s not easy. That’s why I’m here to help. I desperately want to end this epidemic.

Remember, I started Rebooted Body because I was furious that the truth was so buried. When I saw what the truth did in my own life, I was motivated to shout it from the rooftops. 

There are very few people on your side. I’m one of them. And there are others like me. Let us help you and then tell everyone you know. Amazing things can happen through nothing more than personal action.

Comments

  • Melissa says:

    Hey Kevin,
    Thanks for this thoughtful review. I’ve found a happy place for myself and my relationship with food, but it’s my family that I see struggling with change. This leads me to think that even when presented with good information, people still have trouble pushing aside their old beliefs (what they’ve been told by family and drs. and gov and “health” agencies and whoever else all of their lives) and making change. It’s as if they need to be told from an “authoritative” source – when advice comes from me, it seems to kind of fall flat even though I back it up with links to content such as yours and others on the internet that I follow and believe has good/right information. Unfortunately, and I don’t want to sound like too much of a defeatist, but I think people do have to hit a low point (probably a health scare in this case) to turn around and take a serious look at how they are treating their bodies, so in the end, there’s not much I can say that will get them to change….is there?

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Melissa,

      You made a great point. Doctors and “government officials” are just that: official. Authority. And when they push bad science and recommendations, people feel trapped because our society has mainly been raised in an obedience-to-authority paradigm. Your family is literally afraid to go against the official recommendations. This is one reason why that paradigm is so dangerous.

      Some people do have to hit a bottom or a crisis to take action. One phrase I like to use is, “pain is their only inspiration.” This isn’t true for everyone though. But yes, you can only help those who want to be helped. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Just continue to do great work in your own life and share willingly. The revolution will be slow and steady.

      • Robert Dunn says:

        Kevin,
        Without going into detail, I will just say this…
        Your review SUCKS. THERE ARE SO MANY ERRORS, YET IT ISN’T EVEN WORTH THE TIME OR EFFORT TO GO INTO ALL OF THEM.

        You are a fraud Kevin.

      • Kevin Geary says:

        Hi Robert,

        I’m blown away by the thoughtfulness and brilliance of your comment. Thank you so much for taking a few seconds out of your day to leave your thoughts.

  • Cynthia Hill says:

    Great review & very valid points!!!

  • Kelly says:

    Looks like a good review Kevin. I definitely won’t bother paying to watch this documentary.

    I agree with Melissa and your response to her. It’s also hard for me to convince family that processed food is mostly really unhealthy.

    The government is a powerful entity, and our public schools, as an extension of government, have misinformed us and our children about what a healthy diet looks like. The ” everything in moderation” mindset prevails in our house. Only we all know that once the highly palatable, addictive junk food is in the house, it is definitely NOT eaten in moderation. Most often, it is eaten mindlessly in front of a TV or other screen, which has commercials advertising more unhealthy foods to us. It’s a vicious circle that’s hard to combat. Do you allow/ watch commercial TV in your home?

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Kelly,

      I watch about an hour of television per day, always in the evening. My daughter has never watched television. I don’t have the TV on during the day usually at all unless there’s something I’m following closely or doing research for a Mainstream Media Madness podcast or something.

  • Sammy G says:

    Thanks for the great article. I have not watched the documentary, but I believe a lot of this particular brand of reform is coming. Just like the raw milk crisis is the 1920’s- people were dying from the junk being added to milk, and the living conditions of the cows. Instead of requiring better conditions, the government required pasteurization, and shuts down anyone trying to sell or share raw milk.
    Manufacturers are not going to move toward healthy, whole food. They will avoid the banned ingredients, but their answer will not be to feed you a carrot, or real butter. Their answer will be more chemicals, food like products, and addictive additives instead of sugar.
    As the consumer, we have to put our dollar where our opinion is, and make our decisions count.
    Thanks for your work. I think I found your blog when I was depressed, and your wife told me that food=mood. She was so right. I had to come out of my depression using herbs and supplements, and I am now able to manage my mood with better foods. I have been on a whole foods adventure for just over a year, and it has been amazing.

  • Tanya Storm says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I appreciate this review and the thought that went into it. I will say though, that I seriously bristle at your comment “Also, you can’t complain about school lunches when you send your children to public school, which is a horrific place on many other counts.”

    Not everyone has the privileged choice of private school or home-/un-schooling. So yes, I think I have every right to complain about school lunch, when that is the option available to my family.

    Please consider that not everyone has the same options, and a guilt-strategy – when all ANY of us want is the best for our kids – is more alienating than effective.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Tanya,

      While not everyone is able to keep their kids out of public school, the vast majority of people send their children without thinking twice. So, it’s viable to educate people about the issues. It’s not about guilt, it’s just about announcing an unfortunate truth to build awareness. No comment can cover 100% of the variables. The sub-group you point out is a sliver of the overarching issue.

      I could make the argument that using the word “privilege” is alienating also. My family chooses many sacrifices in order to keep my daughter out of the public school system. That’s not privilege, it’s sacrifice.

      Another aspect of this is that the government is the most responsible party for WHY most people say they can’t help but send their child to government schools. You’re forced to pay for them whether you send your kids or not, taxes in general are families’ largest expense and when combined with inflation forces the 2nd parent into the workforce…the examples go on and on. So that needs to be discussed also.

      I do thank for your comments though.

      • Tanya Storm says:

        ” My family chooses many sacrifices in order to keep my daughter out of the public school system.”

        The fact is, it IS a privilege to even HAVE that choice. Not everyone has the choice, sacrifice or not. And I would say the group of folks who do not have the choice are much greater than a sliver.

      • Kevin Geary says:

        Right now it feels like we might be speculating. Could you provide an example of what not having a choice looks like?

      • Monica says:

        LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this:
        “In my estimation, children are precious, sovereign human beings. And if you can’t afford to feed, clothe, shelter, educate, and otherwise provide for their wellbeing, then you shouldn’t bring them into the world.”

      • Kevin Geary says:

        Whether you find it offensive or not has no bearing on the truth. If you find it offensive, it means you value some “right” to have children over the the wellbeing of the child. In essence, to those who are offended, children are nothing more than property that they “deserve.”

        In my estimation, children are precious, sovereign human beings. And if you can’t afford to feed, clothe, shelter, educate, and otherwise provide for their wellbeing, then you shouldn’t bring them into the world.

        I do want to point out that you first argued that some people don’t have a choice. Now your argument is that you don’t like the choice. But, whatever…

        The bottom line is this: Do you care about some broader concept of “I deserve to have children no matter what” more than you care about the wellbeing of children?

      • Tanya Storm says:

        Hmm, so by your example, the choice to have children should be limited to only folks with plenty of money? That is so incredibly offensive that I believe I am done after this.

        As to the rest of the “choice to leave poverty” line of thinking – this shows a level of ignorance that makes arguing compassionate reason with you clearly pointless.

      • Kevin Geary says:

        I only asked to make sure I understood what you were trying to say. So, here are my thoughts, based on that:

        1) We were not talking about single parents until now. That’s an added dimension to the argument. I’ll stick with addressing the initial argument of poverty.

        2) If you are in poverty before having a child, then you’re making the CHOICE to have that child, knowing that you won’t have the “time, energy, and resources” to educate them and will be forced to send them to a destructive institution. That’s still a choice, it’s just made well before the act of sending a child to public school.

        3) If you are in poverty AFTER having a child, and are stuck with public school, then your main priority should be to make adjustments until you’re able to pull your child out and educate them at home. Overall poverty numbers don’t tell the whole story — people are entering and leaving “poverty” al the time. It’s not one stagnant group of people who are stuck there. America is one of the most economically mobile countries. This is typically not the priority though.

        My original argument was aimed at people who CAN choose NOW. You chose to argue the exceptions. And even so, I’ve shown that choice still is involved if people are willing to take responsibility and make their child’s wellbeing a priority.

      • Tanya Storm says:

        Perhaps my example was not concrete enough for you. A single parent making below or even anywhere near federal poverty wages is unlikely to have the time, energy, and resources to educate her own child. – and is certainly not able to afford private school.

        I personally known quite a few people who fall into this category. These people must rely on the public school system for their children’s education, and they deserve a voice in the food their children receive.

      • Kevin Geary says:

        So is your argument that people in poverty can’t educate their own children?

      • Tanya Storm says:

        In 2012, 46.5 million people were living in poverty in the United States. I am sure you could find some good examples if you start there.

  • Betty says:

    Wow, Kevin, you really got up on your soap box with the talk of public schools. I’m a current member of Rebooted Body and value all the information you provide and how it helps me change my life/health for the better. However, I understand and tend to agree with Tanya Storm’s position on public schools. While I comprehend the argument you are making, I don’t think you will successfully persuade others to join your line of thinking on this or any other topic if you attack those who initially or partially disagree with your opinion.

    The reason I disagree with your opinion is because I have had very positive experiences with the public school system, both individually and with my own children. I grew up in a low income household, went to public school, and was a benefactor of the free lunch program. Criticize the food I was fed at school all you want….it was horrid. But, my education was excellent, provided by outstanding teachers. I was later accepted into Harvard and don’t think that would have happened if my public school education was the disgrace you’re suggesting of the entire public school system.

    Later, I lived in Kansas when my daughter was born, and the public school system in our town was horrific. We made the decision to rent an apartment instead of buying a house so that we could afford to pay for private school. Education was our largest monthly expense at the time. However, we now live in Tallahassee, Florida, and again have been extremely pleased with the public schools. I know that Georgia (your home state) is notorious for having horrible public schools. My sister lives just outside Atlanta and shares many of your concerns, but that doesn’t mean that all schools in all cities, in all states are awful. Nor would I agree that home school is the answer for everyone. I think the easiest solution to preventing our children from eating unhealthy meals provided by the school is to pack their lunch. Perhaps the arguments you made against public schools should be tabled for a separate forum more appropriately aligned with that agenda so that this discussion’s focus can remain on food and what we feed our children.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Everyone is entitled to their opinions here. I don’t think I was attacking anyone. I was simply asking questions and stating my opinion. The public school issue, as I laid out in the link I posted, goes far deeper into children’s welfare issues than school lunches. And if we’re interested in the health and wellbeing of children, it’s my opinion that those things need to be sorted out. I’m well aware that my position on public school (really, all formal school in general) isn’t popular. But, I don’t say things to be popular, I say things that align with my core principles. It’s why people value my insight on nutrition and health and it’s why — I believe — they’ll value my insight on the health and wellbeing of children.

  • Wenchypoo says:

    I’m highly skeptical of anything produced by Katie Couric or Laurie David.

    So am I–Katie herself is an aged-out-of-network-TV talking head looking for more camera time, or even a little relevance. Laurie is looking for relevance. I’m glad I never even took the time to view this thing–the cast of characters was enough to keep me away.

    The TV show “Food Forward” also suffers from the same thing: a bunch of has-beens or wannabe’s (including Tom Vilsak–the government IS in bed with everyone!) looking to point their guns at everything but the REAL cause of the obesity problem.

    For some reason, “officials” and “authority” believe (and release that feeling freely into the wild) that asking individuals making changes to their own way of eating is just too much and too hard to accomplish, when in fact, they DO want a sick, stupid populace–it makes taking advantage of us that much more easy and fun, not to mention lucrative. The message gets changed to one of TELLING instead of asking, and the telling includes the very foods that will accomplish their goals.

    Bottom line: the New Deal was a bad deal, and the government is finally facing the fact that it can no longer afford to buy votes with all the various coddling programs (called a safety net). Rather than make the painful choice of cutting benefits or cutting spending publicly, they devised a nutritional plan to kill us off before we needed or earned any of these benefits. They tried to cut the payroll, just like any business.

    But they DID NOT count on us adapting and mutating genetically. Unfortunately, some of us lived to tell the tale, but others were born mutated, and had very short lives. As a result, the cost of living with this factory-installed sickness has risen to such gargantuan proportions, that only the government can afford to make a dent in it–but they won’t. They’re the ones who created this monster (through policies, subsidies, and lack of transparency), and now it’s too big (and lucrative) for them to kill off.

    No documentary is going to change any of this. Only WE can by changing what we know about our food, what we put in our mouths, what we put in our carts, and what we teach our children about all this. Those who don’t will pay the ultimate price–a steep stupidity tax that lasts for generations.

    That’s one hell of a way to thin out the population. But they (politicians, businesses) only want our money, not our opinion.

  • These topics represent an important set of topics. Thanks, Kevin, for reviewing the film and taking the time to share your notes. In the early 90s, I worked for a high profile company in the weight loss world whose president testified before congress in the “obesity hearings” at that time. Ultimately (and predictably) nothing of real value came out of those hearings. That was just over 20 years ago.

    While it is evident from the comments above that some feel supported and helped by the government, it is also fair to say that this has proven to be a risky and unreliable source of real support for the average person. The reality is, that regardless of financial status, we are on our own dealing with health issues from the preventive side with government policy working against us WAY too often.

  • Renilde says:

    Hi Kevin, I liked your review, but I loved your comments on the public school topic. It is so refreshing to see somebody give and ask for arguments and point out our own responsibilty. Feeling attacked by the truth doesn’t change it.
    I love the fact that you point out the real role of the government in this issue. It’s alarming to see how the government has made people believe that they are dependant on the government for things like public schooling and should be greatful for it, while the government itself is often the cause of the problems for which they provide so called solutions funded by tax money. No wonder people feel as if they have no choice: paying for private schools doesn’t exempt them from paying taxes for public schooling.

  • Steve Pipenger says:

    Interesting comment. Actually, the US is one of the least mobile countries, particularly western countries on earth. In stodgy old Europe, people move up the economic ladder better, and more readily, than in the US. http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2013/dec/19/steven-rattner/it-easier-obtain-american-dream-europe/

  • Mo Brown says:

    I watched Fed Up in 2017 on Netflix. The good news is food manufacturers must include daily allowance percentages of sugar on labels by July 2018. Mexico currently bans junk food advertisement for children. Let’s see if this has a positive impact on their child obesity problem before having more government regulation.

    Kevin…I agree with your parent responsibility opinion. However, left wing liberals like to blame lack of privilege for social ills. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been delayed at checkout lines with a cashier matching WIC approved food items with grocery cart contents. I’ve actually seen two piles, one junk food and soda paid with cash, the other one having milk, eggs, WIC approved items. Their children get free school lunches, toys for tots at Christmas, free food baskets at Thanksgiving and free backpacks with school supplies donated by the community. Children are pawns used for the free, give me entitlements expected by low income parent(s). Not all low income people think this way but each year the charity list of items becomes longer and equally compelling. Don’t have kids if you can’t properly feed, clothe, medically afford, and/or shelter them. I ask liberals what they think about a human having a pet animal but not being able to pay for shots, spaying, neutering, food and medical expenses. They become enraged at the human’s neglect. But with children, it’s not their fault of course and poor people are entitled to be parents too. Two similar situations, different outcomes and expectations.

    I disagree with you about the burden of food companies. They have been doing us an injustice by not showing percentages of WHO recommended daily sugar allowances. High frutose corn syrup metabolizes differently than whole fruit sugar with fiber. Eating an orange has a different caloric effect than drinking a glass of orange juice. Food labels contain misleading buzz words such as low fat, organic, gluten free, gmo free, real fruit juice, etc. Healthy shopping now involved carrying a calculator and looking at every, single label to ensure you and your loved ones are not being scammed by deceptive labels and hidden ingredients.

    All the real fruit and vegetables are usually located in the back of the store because they require mist, refrigeration and baskets. All the junk and processed foods are near the front aisles and registers. Another inconvenience. And most mothers who were born after 1978 are in the workforce. Us baby boomers had majority of moms who were housewives cooking real meals with fresh produce and real meats, butter, eggs, etc. We had portion controls. Real cooks and dishwashers were employed at public schools. If you ate a school lunch before 1978, it was served on compartmentalized green or tan cafeteria trays with white or chocolate milk. Small portions, no processed junk food. A slice of cake, brownie, cookie, jello, peanut butter serve as the occasional sweet treat.

    Fed Up movie is correct in saying the deck is stacked against kids in public schools relying on their hot lunch meals from fast food vendors. Parents barely have time to feed their kids breakfast let alone plan nutritious sack lunch meals the night before a school day. Not to mention the 1-2 hours of homework piled on the average student each night. It takes dedicated, selfless parents to do the right things, fix the right foods, and ensure their children are thriving physically, mentally and academically in 2017. More expectations, less time for everyone involved.

  • hrhSarah says:

    Fair and accurate review- it’s a shame that ole Katie couldn’t just make an educational doc without turning it into Big Gov propaganda. I do feel bad for those kids, having so little option and education in basic care of their bodies!

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