The message that has been pushed at us concerning the present crisis in health is that “it’s our fault”.

“For the past 30 years, everything we thought we knew about food and exercise is dead wrong.”  That is what we learn in the new movie, FED UP, which is about what the food industry does not want you to know.  It has been produced by the popular anchor woman, Katie Couric, Laurie David, Oscar winning producer of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, and director Stephanie Soechtig.  The film opened across the country on May 9th.   A friend/reader told me Fed Up is showing in a theater in Little Rock and I researched it online to write this column.  This movie will change the way people think about eating.

            The message that has been pushed at us concerning the present crisis in health is that “it’s our fault”.  People in authority often say we just need to exercise more—we are lazy.  Commentators in Fed Up say, “They are lying through their teeth”. 

“If a foreign country did this to our children, we would defend our families.”  This is a theme of Fed Up, and it shows us how our brains have been hijacked by the food industry which has created the greatest public health epidemic of our time.  Americans don’t know what they are doing when they grab the junk food that bombards our society at every turn.  Whenever you check out at almost any store, whether it is a grocery, toy store, even a drug store, there will be a display of health destroying junk food right at your kid’s eye level. 

We have been “conned” says Fed Up—we are toast.  The sugar industry is extremely powerful, in business just to make money, cares nothing about our health, and the government subsidizes this epidemic.  Remember when the tobacco industry vigorously declared that cigarettes caused no harm.  They even hired a doctor who said that smoking a pack a day would prevent lung cancer, as he puffed away.  (I hear he later died of lung cancer.)  That industry was also subsidized by the government.  The processed food industry denies that their wonderful convenience foods are causing the very inconvenient diseases that started plaguing the country whenever processed foods filled grocery shelves.

Ronald McDonald sells by magic and fun.  Favorite cartoon characters, toys and a carnival atmosphere push junk food at kids.  We cannot drive or walk down the street without seeing it.  Decisions we make about food are completely irrational because nearly everyone succumbs to these fun advertisements that lead us to not-so-fun diseases.  Emotional gloss sells empty chemical-laden, sugary foods.

It is amazing to me the thorough job the junk food industry has done brainwashing Americans.  Many years ago, I was astounded by the response of a woman whose young son was having serious health problems.  She came into the health food store wanting help for him (supplements I think).   I asked her about his diet and she said he loved McDonald’s food.  When I suggested to her that might be a lot of the reason he was sick, she became irate and said, “I wouldn’t think of depriving my child of McDonald’s!”  I never saw her again!  This company has made itself sacred to parents and children of America.  Happy meals have produced not so happy results.

A government that considers pizza a vegetable, while it claims to be concerned about our health, is not going to protect us in any way.  Former President Clinton appears on Fed Up saying we must change our diets and he says we first need to address the school lunch program.  People say kids won’t eat healthy foods—they will throw them away.  That is because their taste buds have been trained from infancy to like the taste of processed foods.  Many people, adults and children, don’t even realize they are not eating real food.  Education is the only answer and it is hard to educate an addict.  (Children need to see this film along with their parents.) Doctors on Fed Up compare the addiction to sugar to cocaine addiction.  They show brains on both of these substances and the similarities are amazing.  Clinton says 80 percent of the deplorable health of the country could be addressed by improving the diet.  He should know since he turned his health around by doing just that.           

Films such as Fed Up offer hope.  When celebrities such as Jason Janego and Tom Quin, who introduced the film, implore the audience to “help us make this a movement” there is a possibility that many will give a serious listen.  Janego pointed out that it’s the first time a Spanish-dubbed version of a documentary will be released at the same time as the English-language one.

 “We have a very vigorous social action campaign,” said producer, Laurie David. Several ways to help change the system, including taking a no-processed foods pledge, are offered at the conclusion of the film, which sees childhood obesity and the growing diabetes rate as a direct result of food conglomerate’s relentless focus on profits and how much the government is beholden to corporate interests. The impetus for making the documentary came from Couric’s interest in “finding out why everyone was getting so sick,” said Quinn.

How about you and me, are we willing to add our voices to help make this a successful mission?  Will you take a no-processed food pledge?

(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a weekly column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at