Following in the footsteps of Morgan Spurlock, who ate only McDonald’s food for one month in the film Super Size Me, an Australian man has undergone a sugar-heavy diet for 60 days to explore the ingredient’s impact on his health.
In the upcoming That Sugar Film, Damon Gameau, a filmmaker and TV actor, vows to follow a strict diet of “healthy,” low-fat food with high sugar content, News.com.au reported.
Within three weeks, the formerly healthy Gameau became moody and sluggish. A doctor gave him the shocking diagnosis: He was beginning to develop fatty liver disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most severe outcome for fatty liver disease is liver failure.
“I had no soft drink, chocolate, ice cream or confectionery,” Gameau told Yahoo. “All the sugars that I was eating were found in perceived healthy foods, so low-fat yogurts, and muesli bars, and cereals, and fruit juices, sports drinks … these kind of things that often parents would give their kids thinking they’re doing the right thing.”
Gameau reportedly consumed 40 teaspoons of sugar per day, or slightly more than the average teenager worldwide, according to News.com.au. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average American consumes 20 teaspoons of sugar daily.
The AHA’s daily recommendations for sugar consumption are 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
In That Sugar Film, Gameau observeed that the additive impacted his physical and mental health. Doctors called his mental functioning “unstable,” and the father-to-be reportedly put on nearly four inches of visceral fat around his waist. He was on the fast track to obesity.
Gameau said his sugar-laden diet left him feeling hungry, no matter how much he ate.
His final meal— which consisted of a juice, a jam sandwich, a bar, and a handful of other snacks— is similar to an ordinary child’s school lunchbox.
“Sadly, it was very easy to do and fitted comfortably into the small plastic container,” Gameau wrote on his blog documenting his experiment.
“The last meal was for all the people out there, especially parents, who are led to believe they are doing the right and healthy thing for their children. They are making an effort yet are horribly let down by the lack of integrity in marketing and packaging strategies.”
Gameau told News.com.au that the experiment’s findings don’t suggest a need to completely cut sugar— but rather a need for more awareness about how much sugar has been added to perceptibly healthy food.
“Sugar’s now in 80 percent of the processed food we’re eating,” he said. “If we can remove that, that’s the first step towards making a change.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3 percent of the population, have diabetes. In adults, type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed diabetes cases. Research has shown that sugary drinks are linked to type 2 diabetes.
Consuming excess added sugar is also associated with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease—the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, according to the CDC. Heart disease accounts for one in four deaths in the United States, or about 600,000 annual deaths.
That Sugar Film will be released in Australian movie theaters in February 2015. A U.S. release date has not been listed on the film’s website.