Why “eat less, exercise more” is All Wrong (Fed Up Documentary Review)

Happy Monday, friends.

Over the weekend, I watched the Fed Up documentary (it’s on Netflix!), and let me just tell you, it made an impression. Let me tell you about it.

If you think that the key to losing weight is as simple as, “eat less, exercise more” you may have it all wrong.

This phrase is everywhere and has been the mantra of fitness enthusiasts and professionals alike – I’ve certainly used it a time or two!

However, the documentary Fed Up makes that phrase seem well…inadequate at best…(like complete crap is more like it).

Just like cigarettes literally cause cancer, some foods literally make you fat.

Fed Up

The movie focuses on childhood obesity and gets into the horrors of the food industry from there. It challenges the notion that “eat less, exercise more” is the solution to weight management because at this point, our nation is addicted to sugar – thus, losing weight is not just a matter of willpower and you can’t exercise your way out of it, either.

The main problem? Our children (and nation) are suffering from food addiction.

You can make food addicting. It’s a biological fact. Sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine.

Well then.

The documentary points out that during the “low fat phenomenon” that blew up in the late 80’s, what food companies did was cut fat from their products, which actually makes food taste totally disgusting. So, what did they do? Add sugar! Half the fat equals double the sugar! GREAT.

And do you know what happens when you eat sugar?

Your body almost automatically turns it to fat as it makes its way through the liver and then the pancreas. Your pancreas produces insulin, which turns fructose into fat for storage. And the thing with insulin, is that it can also block your brain from receiving the “I’m full” message – so your body is still craving MORE FOOD.

When you eat natural sugar, as in a piece of fruit, the fiber in the fruit mitigates the negative effects. Go, Fiber!

Sometimes, people who are overweight are stereotyped as lazy and undisciplined. “Just stop eating so much! Just work out!” Well, when your body is high on sugar, your energy crashes and you want to keep eating.

What does this mean? The behaviors we associate with obesity could be the result of the problem, not the cause.

Pretty mind blowing.

Personal responsibility and genetics are surely part of this, but it’s not what the overall problem is about.

For many people in our country, making healthy food choices is like swimming upstream, the documentary says. You’re inundated by ads (especially young children!) that glorify sugary snacks, high fat food, and sodas. And our schools offer fried foods and pizza (which is considered a vegetable by the standards that are in place). Also, the food industry has done a fantastic job of perpetuating the myth that eating healthy is expensive by lowering prices (and thus, quality) so that their options seem the most affordable.

The documentary also shines some light on the USDA, pointing out that it has conflicting interests – on the one hand, it is responsible for supporting our agriculture – AKA selling food – and on the other, establishing and maintaining dietary guidelines. SO basically, they’re tasked with selling corn based sweeteners and warning people of their harmful effects. HMMM. (PS: your body process high fructose corn syrup and sugar the exact.same.way.)

Like I mentioned, the movie focuses on childhood obesity, as it has become a problem like never before. And obese children are growing into obese adults, and so the cycle goes.

In 1980, there were ZERO cases of type 2 diabetes in adolescents. In 2000, there were 57,638.

At our current rate, over 95% of Americans will be overweight or obese in 2 decades, and by 2050, 1 in 3 will have diabetes.


It’s clear that our health is in a state of emergency.

Fed Up calls out the food industry and our government by arguing that we wouldn’t allow chemicals, air, or water in our schools that would poison our children and make them sick, so why would we allow food that will do the same?

If a foreign nation were threatening the health of our children and families, we’d surely go to war, so why are we allowing our own to threaten our children and families?

Compelling points.

The bottom line:

In order to affect real change, according to Fed Up, we need to demonize the food industry as we did the cigarette industry. As a result of demonizing the tobacco industry, ads were pulled, warning labels were required, and the images of the awful health effects of cigarettes replaced the ones portraying them as glamourous and sexy. The result? The number of high schoolers who smoke has been cut in half in the last 20 years.

We need to understand that we don’t need to just change how much we eat, but what we eat. Not all calories are created equal. 160 calories of crackers has a much different effect in your body than 160 calories of nuts.

In short, a calorie burned is a calorie burned, but a calorie eaten is NOT a calorie eaten – which is why “eat less exercise more” is no longer the answer.

While I certainly don’t accept anything I see or read as the full story, and I don’t believe it’s government’s role to micromanage people, this documentary really got the wheels spinning. And it really made me ANGRY!

Of course I indulge in the occasional soda or sugary treat, but that is not the issue.

Living in a pretty low income area, I see what families are putting in their grocery carts and it makes me so mad and sad that this is what our country has come to.

We need to create strong, healthy, active, happy kids – and if things keep going in this direction, I’m not sure we’ll be able to do that. As the movie points out, who will our Soldiers be? Our first responders? Police officers? Athletes? If all our children are sick and overweight, how will we function as a nation?

It’s scary to think about.

What I do know? I will be part of the solution.

Hope you all have a great day! Fuel yourself and your families right.


Wicked Healthy Wonderings: Have you seen the Fed Up documentary? Thoughts?

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    • Tamieka
    • July 29, 2020

    I had never even heard of this movie…but will be checking it out!

    Thanks for this!

    The obesity rate is outrageous and getting worse and worse everyday!

    • Susie
    • July 31, 2020

    I wish people would just leave food alone and stop messing with it. Let food be food. Simple is FINE, gosh darn it. Don’t get me wrong, I love my diet coke and my chemicals. But overall? Let food be freaking food.

    • Erica
    • July 31, 2020

    I need to watch this asap.

    • Elsie
    • August 1, 2020

    I can definitely feel your anger, girl! All of this is scary because food can never be the enemy, right? WRONG! We are making it the enemy by putting business and money before proper nutrition and health. This needs to change!

    • Lily Lau
    • August 3, 2020

    I completely feel you there, people do such crazy things to be thin…! Thanks for sharing this useful post 🙂

    • Jess
    • August 4, 2020

    Katie Couric came to Charlottesville to promote this documentary, and that’s when I heard of and saw this movie. IT WAS LIFE-CHANGING and sad at the same time….and also motivating. It’s shame how much money and politics is involved with our food, but I think we can change how we view sugar/food!! Great post, Ruthie 🙂 xoxo!!

    • Jen
    • August 4, 2020

    I definitely think that things need to change when it comes to our government making decisions about food. I’ve seen Fed Up, and I also got really angry – ESPECIALLY when it comes to the lower income areas where it’s not anyone’s fault if they don’t get the education…and don’t even get me STARTED on the glaring absence of standard healthy food chains like Whole Foods in non-rich, mainly white areas. I could go on for days.

    • lindsay
    • August 4, 2020

    yes, it’s so true. and the FDA is not helping with this addiction, they are feeding it. ugh! can’t wait to see this!

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