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Fed Up Spotlights the American Sugar Epidemic

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Fed Up is an excellent documentary; it's the latest in shocking truths about our food in America from Atlas Films with producers Katie Couric, Laurie David, Heather Reisman, Regina Kulik Scully and Michael Walrath, directed by Stephanie Soechtig.

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.

It asks basic and important questions such as: "Why is obesity in American children an epidemic?" "Why for the first time will this generation of U.S. children not live as long as their parents?" The answer: sugar.

Fed Up masterfully shows audiences how Big Food has been allowed to feed our nation mega tons of sugar. So much so that type two diabetes, which historically occurs in middle to later life is now becoming commonplace in children, coast to coast across America.

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One teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams. The American Heart Association's daily allowance of added sugar is 6-9 teaspoons, but the human body actually requires no sugar whatsoever. Photo credit: Atlas Films

This is a must-see documentary. "Everyone should see the movie. If you eat, if you shop at a grocery store, that food is making everyone sick even if it doesn't make you fat," says Academy Award-winning producer Laurie David.

This rich documentary is loaded with staggering facts. For example, between 1980 and 2000 fitness club memberships more than doubled across America, yet, at the same time, the obesity rate also doubled.

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Thirty percent of Americans are obese. Up to 40 percent of normal weight people have the same metabolic dysfunction as those who are obese. So, 51 percent of the U.S. population is sick with metabolic dysfunction. Photo credit theguardian.com

In 1980 the number of documented type two diabetes cases amongst American adolescents (ages 8-19) was zero. Whereas, in 2010, there were 57,638 U.S. adolescents diagnosed with this preventable, life-threatening disease: type two diabetes.

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Several studies show that when children are watching television, especially shows with food commercials, they're primed to eat more. One study had kids watching TV with a bowl of goldfish crackers to munch on while they were watching. The kids that watched programs that showed food commercials ate 45 percent more goldfish crackers compared to kids watching the same program with non-food commercials. Photo credit: Atlas Films

From 1977 to 2000, Americans have doubled their dietary sugar intake. As if this weren't disturbing enough, since 1995, corn-based sweetener companies have received over $8 billion in subsidies.

Soon after these repugnant sugar subsidies began, tens of billions of honeybees across America began to die en masse. Most of the sugar derived today in America comes from genetically modified corn. Over 400,000 farms in America plant corn. Those corn seeds are coated with a class of bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids (neonics). Sadly, most commercial bee-keepers rob their bees of honey; substituting their diet exclusively with corn syrup, which impoverishes them, too.

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Since 2006 honeybees have been dying at an astonishing rate. Scientists have dubbed this crisis Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD because all that remains in the colony is the helpless queen -- 100,000 female workers abandon the hive and die. Photo credit: inhabitat.com

The deleterious and knock-on effects from using neonics are well documented and believed by many of my distinguished colleagues from around the globe to be the culprit for CCD, a crisis that has witnessed the death of more than 300 billion honeybees.

Between 1970 and 1990, the consumption of high fructose corn syrup in America has increased by 1000 percent. Did you know that a typical 20-ounce bottle of soda contains 16 teaspoons of sugars from high fructose corn syrup?

By 2010, two out of every three Americans were either overweight or obese. Eighty percent, or 480,000 of the 600,000 food products sold within the U.S. have added sugar, which, according to researchers and medical doctors, is why we have the world's highest obesity rate at 31 percent.

Fed Up calculated that by 2050, one in three Americans would have diabetes. But before America attains this dreadful statistic, by 2035, approximately 95 percent of American's will be either overweight or obese.

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A brain scan from the rats fed both sugar and cocaine, notice the whiter color in both highlighted lobes of rats addicted to sugar. It denotes that powerful insatiable craving or "give me more sensation." And it's stronger in sugar than cocaine as evidenced from these pictures. Photo credit: Atlas Films

Are you aware that sugar is a highly addictive substance? In fact, 43 cocaine-addicted laboratory rats were given the choice of cocaine or sugar water over a 15-day period: 93 percent or 40 out of 43 chose sugar.

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When President Bill Clinton was interviewed on 'Fed Up,' he succinctly summed up America's sugar and obesity crisis: "We must change the way we produce and consume in the United States." Photo credit: Atlas Films

Clearly we need to move quickly to avert what's coming next. Health is first and foremost. "To be healthy, cook fresh food, keep to an absolute minimum what comes from a box, juice carton, soda can or jar because there's so much hidden sugar," says executive producer Heather Reisman.

FedUpMovie.com lists where sugar hides. Go there and become aware, please. I tell my students, "If you cannot pronounce the chemicals that are added into your food, don't eat it." Make it a habit to read all labels, and shop mostly around the perimeter of grocery stores.

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Creating homemade healthy meals with children in the kitchen is an essential part of every family. Photo credit: kneeldown.net

The architect, author, social commentator and philosopher Frank Lloyd Wright believed that, "The heart of a home is its kitchen." Cooking is fun. Cooking is easy. The kitchen is where parents find out all about what is going on in their children's world. It's also where children learn to cook. Please teach your children to cook with fresh foods not processed foods.

Consider taking the Fed Up challenge -- Sugar Free for 10 Days. Just do it. Everyone's life depends upon it.

Earth Dr Reese Halter is a broadcaster, biologist, educator and author of The Incomparable Honeybee and the Economics of Pollination.