The call-to-action documentary sometimes feels like the only kind of nonfiction film that is being made these days. Titles like “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Waiting for Superman” easily come to mind. “Fed Up,” directed by Stephanie Soechtig, is in line with these kinds of films.
Harping on one of America’s favorite topics – our obsession with weight and food – the film tells the story of how the sugar lobby is slowly killing American children.
Katie Couric helped produce the film and is the narrator, although there is little to no narration, and it is unclear why her voice needs to be in it all.
The story is, however, told effectively with plenty of talking heads and an interesting use of graphics. The film also capitalizes on the stories of four children battling obesity, adding a human element to the barrage of facts and advice.
The problem is that it was hard to discover the new information in the film.
It’s not revolutionary to say that soda is bad. It’s almost less revolutionary to say that companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi don’t want us to think it is bad, but this is largely the message of the film.
One of the hardest-hitting moments might be when the film calls out first lady Michelle Obama, who seems to be the face of all anti-obesity efforts these days, for backing off of the food industry in her “Let’s Move” campaign after many heads of those corporations joined her efforts.
Like many of these advocacy documentaries, the issue of childhood obesity is made to be black and white, with the responsibility of fixing the problem falling almost entirely on the government, who we are told is not doing enough in the way of sugar regulation.
This is fine. Some interesting comparisons between yesterday’s tobacco industry and today’s sugar industry are made. However, the same essential point is made over and over again with little nuance. We get it. Sugar is bad. Do we really need a 90-minute documentary to tell us this?
One of the more helpful sequences of the film comes at the end when actual dietary advice is given to viewers. Part of this is a challenge to everyone: Try and see if you can stay completely away from sugar for 10 days. In fact, you would probably learn more doing that than you would watching this film.
2½ stars (Out of four)
Documentary directed by Stephanie Soechtig. 92 minutes. Rated PG for thematic elements, including smoking images, and brief mild language. Playing at the Dipson Amherst Theater.