Sugar Consumption’s Real Impact on Your Health

I watched the 2014 documentary Fed Up recently. The film’s focus is on the history of sugar consumption in America and the commodity’s negative effect on our health. This is more well known today, but I found it helpful to walk through the subject matter in more detail. You can find the film on Netflix. My notes are below:

— We blame lack of willpower for why kids and adults become fat and stay that way. That’s not it. They have the wrong blueprint for how to lose weight.

— Calories in/calories out model is nonsense. And it is very difficult to track accurately regardless.

— We will not exercise our way out of an obesity problem.

— 1 cookie equals 20 minutes of jogging

— A calorie eaten is not a calorie eaten across all food types.

— Sugar creates a blood sugar spike, makes your liver work in overdrive, and the pancreas has to help by releasing insulin that turns sugar into fat for energy storage. High insulin levels also block the signal to your brain that you are full and can stop eating.

— Food companies are solely interested in selling more food.

— Cigarettes literally cause cancer. Certain foods literally make you fat.

— You can eat well for less cost, but consumers don’t know that.

— Genetics are part of the obesity problem but not the main driver.

— 1977 to 2000: Americans doubled their daily sugar intake. The focus was on low fat products that were infused with more sugar to make the product still taste good.

— There is a safe level of sugar to consume, but it is still a toxin.

— 600,000 food items out there, and 80% have added sugar

— Processed starches are bad too; this includes white bread, white rice, potato products, and cereals. They get digested into glucose in an instant once they reach the digestive tract.

— Fruits are different: there are other good effects from consuming fruit like its fiber that make it okay. Processed fruit juices are as bad as soda though.

— Diet products with artificial sweeteners are still a problem too.

— Up to 30 grams of added sugar a day is okay.

— Rats on sugar water exhibit signs of addiction (binging, cravings, withdrawal). They also chose sugar water over cocaine.

— Sugar lights up the same parts of the brain as cocaine. It’s also 8x more addictive than cocaine.

— Lactose free baby formula is infused with sucrose.

— Junk food is shelved right at the eye level of children.

— If foreign nations were causing this obesity rise in our children, we would defend ourselves. Instead we let the guilty parties slip by.

— The World Health Organization recommends no more than 10% of calories should come from sugar. Sugar lobbyists want this number to be 25%

— Processed food companies are able to dial up or down any aspect they want as a marketing mechanism: low carbs, low sugar, low fat, high protein. But junk is still junk. Their goal is just to make money, not to help Americans become healthier.

— School lunch programs are not serving their customers but instead helping their suppliers: the food companies. Schools depend on the money, so 80% have exclusive deals with a soda company and 50% serve fast food. Fries and pizza are considered vegetables.

— A healthy lunch option is provided at school, but given the choice between that and pizza or nachos, only 25 of 350 children chose the healthy school lunch.

— Part of the problem: you never see TV ads for vegetables.

— There is less regulation around advertising to children than there is to adults.

— Kids ate 45% more snacks while watching TV when food ads were shown during their viewing.

— Food companies blame the government anytime their role is questioned in the health of Americans.

— Companies target those least capable of combatting their message.

— 2001 to 2014: annual weight loss surgeries increased nearly 5x

— It’s a systematic failure when it’s okay for kids to undergo major surgery but we won’t cut advertisements to kids or unhealthy school lunches.

— It’s tough on kids to see their peers eat all of the bad food and still be skinny.

— You can be thin on the outside but still the equivalent of fat on the inside with the same metabolic disease risks as an obese person. They aren’t fat, but they’re sick.

— Belly fat is the worst kind.

— 30% of Americans are obese, but another 21% have the same metabolic problems despite not being obese, so 51% total are ill.

— Stop blaming the fat person or we will be in trouble.

— It took decades but now we view cigarettes for what they are. The number of high school smokers has been cut in half over the last 20 years.

— The fairness doctrine meant any TV channel had to show a non-smoking ad for each smoking ad it aired. The tobacco companies eventually just pulled their advertisements from TV entirely.

— Soda is the cigarette of the 21st century.

— 75% of today’s health care dollars go to maintenance or treatment of chronic metabolic disease

— If you want to cure obesity, you have to demonize some food industries.

— The deck is stacked against being healthy. You are swimming upstream.

— The most important thing you can do is cook real food.

— Before eating, ask yourself if this is real or fake food? How many ingredients does it have?

— Are you fed up? Cut out added sugar for 10 days and avoid processed foods. See how you feel and if there is any progress in your weight and physical condition.