Documentary Review: Sugar Coated

Food Politics has always been a great topic of interest of me. In fact it is the social issue that got me interested in studying Sociology in undergrad. I’ve just finished the documentary Sugar Coated, and I think it does an excellent job at raising awareness of the health and social consequences of the sugar industry. It’s available on Netflix which I think makes it pretty easy to access for a lot of folks.

It’s not that sugar in itself is bad. Of course the sugar that is in fruits and vegetables occur naturally and we need to eat it to survive. However, sugar in the modern world is added in large quantities to almost everything we eat and given as many as 48 different alternative names that disguise it’s presence. Processed foods in particular are marketed to people often as being low fat, low calorie in order to attract sales, but in order to make up for the blandness of foods which have lost some flavors in the production process, unreasonable amounts of sugar are added to them.

Reported findings of medical studies over the past few decades on sugar consumption have often been deemed as inconclusive. It is highly likely that the sugar industry has invested lobbying money in order to downplay the effects of overdose on sugar and the consumption of some modified sugars which may be hard for the body to digest. In the past it was difficult to conclude with certainty to the public that heavy sugar consumption could be linked to many non-communicable diseases and conditions such as blood glucose issues, tooth decay, cognition related problems, and even increased risk for heart disease or cancer. This is largely in part to the reality that illnesses are influenced by a myriad of factors, and without the ability to isolate them in medical studies proving a link between sugar and disease is difficult, but over time more and more experts have been trying to warn consumers of the health risks of heavy sugar consumption.

As with anything, don’t just take my word as truth. Explore for yourself. Watch this film. Read some books. Talk to your doctor or dietary specialist and get that important second opinion, but whatever you do, read the labels on your foods! Don’t just be satisfied with vague statements on the front of the packaging that claim “healthy”, low calorie”, or even in some cases claims of “no added sugar”. Read your nutrition facts. You may be surprised (and slightly disgusted) by the amount of sugar we let slip by us. Take control of your health today. Our health is one the most important things we can protect in this world.


Food Inc.

Yesterday I rewatched the documentary Food Inc., a movie which never fails to remind me to keep checking my food labels, and in general question where my food comes from. I was going to write a synopsis of the movie but I found a really excellent compilation of highlights from it:

Overview of Food Inc.

Documentaries and books enlightening us on where our food comes from and how big food companies control market prices are a great resource and I’m glad they exist. But I recall a couple they interviewed in Food Inc. that often fed their kids fast food and junk food knowing it wasn’t good for them. They felt they had no other choices for feeding their family because vegetables and fruits from the supermarket were too expensive, whereas chips, sodas, and hamburgers were an affordable way to at least make their kids feel full at night.

I was struck by a scene of the family at the supermarket. The youngest child’s eyes lit up at the sight of a discount on pears, only for her to be let down by her older sister who had to tell her that they still wouldn’t be able to afford them.

At the end of this documentary, they say everyone gets three votes a day on the kinds of food we all want to be sold to us, but my first thought was, Not everyone is even sure if they can put three meals a day on the table for their family.

It’s great to be informed about where our food comes from. It’s great to try to eat healthy, but next time you sit down to eat, please remember all the families that can’t afford to buy healthy food and those who don’t even have close access to stores that sell healthy food if they could afford it in the first place.

Food Inc.’s message about getting to vote about which foods are sold to us every time we go to the store is still a great one. For those of you who can afford to, try to buy more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods. If middle to upper class Americans start demanding healthier food, prices for these foods will go down and maybe someday buying quality food for one’s family won’t be just a luxury.