In honor of National Candy Day, I am posting a review of a documentary called “That Sugar Film.” It includes several points I emphasize about hidden sugars. What is labeled as “healthy” may not be healthy at all. It is amazing what 60 days of eating only hidden sources of sugar can do to our bodies. I’ve added a few comments in blue.
“I am an advocate for a healthier life, for greener living, and for putting consumer dollars behind authentic, responsible brands. Me too! As they say, freedom of choice and informed decisions comes from freedom of information…” Being informed allows us to make decisions about where we want sugar in our lives and where we don’t.
Damon had not eaten sugar for three years. Under the guidance of a team of professionals, he eats a high sugar diet of 40 teaspoons of sugar a day for 60 days. (By the way, 40 teaspoons is just above the daily teenage average.) He does this without consuming any soda, chocolate, ice cream, or candy. Rather, he only eats foods marketed as “healthy” that actually contain hidden sugars, such as low fat yogurt, granola bars, fruit juices, and cereals.
Let’s just say that he hits the daily 40-teaspoon mark with ease. Sadly, so do most of us. You really have to be a savvy consumer to avoid hidden sugars, especially now! Why? Because they are even more hidden in labels than ever before. Did you know there are over 300 names for sugars?
At the experiment’s conclusion, the team looks at changes in Damon’s blood sugar, heart, liver, and the liver’s production of fat. The results make it clear that too much sugar is quite clearly detrimental to our health, to our weight, and to our well being. When they say that we are what we eat, they really aren’t kidding.
Interestingly, his calorie intake is almost exactly the same as it was before the experiment. The take home message is that a calorie is not a calorie! We will be seeing more about this in the news for sure. Sugar does not have a lot of calories, though calories from sugar apparently behave very differently than calories derived from other sources. In fact, a recent article in the British Medical Journal stated that sugar, not physical inactivity, is creating the obesity epidemic.
Did you know that if you remove all of the packaged goods containing added sugar from supermarket shelves, just 20% of items would remain? It turns out that Damon spent the same amount ($$$) at the supermarket both before and during the experiment. It is not more of a financial hardship, as some might assume, to purchase truly healthy fare than it is to purchase sugar-filled products that are simply marketed as healthy.
Through his lighthearted and informative journey, Damon highlights the inner workings of the sugar industry, the harm that sugar can do to the body, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves. He looks into the manipulation of food companies in placing sugar into their products and ways that companies seek to keep the dangers of sugar from the public. Considering that sugar intake can be linked to Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, brain dysfunction, and higher death rates, it is not surprising that many food companies want to keep that information away from us.
This past March, in fact, the University of California at Can Francisco broke news about the finding of documents revealing that the sugar industry worked closely with the National Institutes of Health in the 1960s and ‘70s to develop a federal research program focused on approaches other than sugar reduction to prevent tooth decay in American children. Part of being a savvy consumer is knowing who is funding the research and headlines you are reading.
You might think that a documentary about sugar would hold your attention for very long. Yet That Sugar Film will forever change the way you think about so called “healthy” food. It is entertaining, well done, and an informative look at a serious health concern.
That Sugar Film does not insist that people should quit sugar. It investigates how sugar has infiltrated our diet and culture, how it can affect our bodies. So if you have a body, if you have children with bodies, or if you have a significant other with a body, then I highly recommend that you watch this film. Thanks to Damon Gameau for sharing his film and his discoveries about sugar in a way that does not force his views on anyone else. After all, freedom of choice can only come with freedom of information.”