Essay on Childhood Obesity Documentaries: 'Fed Up'

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Fed Up

“If a foreign nation was causing our children to become obese, that’s going to affect their health and hurt their happiness, cause them to be depressed, have poor self-esteem—if a foreign nation were doing that to our children, we’d probably go to war. We would defend our families. So why do we accept this from our own country?” Dr. Harvey Karp This is one of the many quotes from the documentary ‘’Fed Up, It was one of my favorites and one that made me reflect on how easily we can be manipulated.

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Fed Up, is directed by Stephanie Soechtig and narrated by Katie Couric, It focuses on the growing link between sugar consumption and the obesity epidemic. According to Couric, ‘’Many people believe that kids are overweight for two reasons: increase of appetite and lack of exercise,’’ By doing so the producers are able to convince the viewer that this is not the case through rhetoric, which is the ability to find the best available means of persuasion for a given audience. The documentary first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 and was received with both admiration and criticism for its portrayal of the obesity epidemic and ‘’Big food’’ in America. Fed Up is a documentary that lights the truth about the food industry and the rapidly growing epidemic in the United States that holds great exigency and needs to be solved without further ado.

Soechtig and Couric are able to easily connect with their audience not only by using digital technology but also by using reasoning and logic into their arguments, otherwise known as logos. Logos allows the writer to back up their claim about the food industry being corrupted and leading to the rising numbers of the obesity epidemic in America. This augment stems from the fact that the food industry just like any other company that is trying to make a profit, is in it for the income. How the food industries are able to make that profit by misleading their consumers through their marketing and advertising techniques.

The food industry by hiding the truth is able to build a good base of loyal customers who are unknowingly destroying their health by consuming the products and therefore benefiting the companies to make a profit. The United States Department of Agriculture decided that schools’ meals must offer vegetables and fruits to students. With this initiative the congress complied that two tablespoons of tomato sauce would be a sufficient amount, leading pizza to be known as the favorite vegetable to consume during lunch break. This led health advocates to believe that “schools are just 7-11s with books.’’ In an interview, former President Bill Clinton believed that we would be able to cure 70-80 percent of the problem if schools prepared the food (meals) themselves.’’

Just like magic marketing and advertainment are convincing us to do almost everything. McDonald’s in one of the examples presented in the documentary, promotes their food by introducing toys that look appealing to toddlers and younger kids and making them one of the least healthy groups of children in American History. Dr. David Ludwig, a professor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical University says that “a calorie in is a calorie out” is a false statement. He continues by stating that “210 calories in almonds is a lot different than 210 calories in a soda. This states the fact that even though different foods may have the same calorie count it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the same benefits or that our digestive system may digest them the same way.

While the food industry is harming our health through its false and targeted advertising, they have made an effort to help decrease the causes. Michelle Obama joined the food industry for a strong reason: to limit the calories placed in foods. This just makes it clearer that health should be our top priority in today’s world. Throughout the documentary we see health put in front by the producer, however, logos is not the only way that the producer and narrator are using to grab the viewer's attention, We see clear examples of ethos as well. Ethos is a rhetorical device that includes any content in an argument that is meant to appeal to ethics.

In using ethos Soechtig and Couric are making the audience believe their own trustworthiness. They are able to use figures and facts to back up their claims. In the documentary, we see Couric state that: “More and more people began exercising, more and more waistlines grew out of control. Between 1980 and 2000, fitness club memberships more than doubled across the United States. During that same time, the obesity rate also doubled. A decade later, two out of every three Americans were either overweight or obese. So how is it possible… that the enormous rise of the fitness revolution almost exactly mirrored the rise in obesity rates.’’ Furthermore, they continue to discuss how sugar affects our brains. Couric continues to give examples and explain that in a recent study, 43 cocaine-addicted laboratory rats were given the choice of cocaine or sugar water over a 15-day period. Forty out of the 43 chose sugar. In another study, rats on a sugar water diet exhibited telltale signs of addiction, binging, craving, and withdrawal when the sugar was taken away. Food addiction is a real thing. It’s not a metaphor. It’s a biological fact. Studies show that your brain lights up with sugar just like it does with cocaine or heroin. In fact, sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine. So, if you start your baby early on addictive highly sugary foods, they’re going to become addicted. By far the most shocking statistic of all is that in the 1980s there weren’t a lot of cases of type 2 diabetes, but today numbers show us otherwise, more than 57,600 cases in America. The facts that are being gathered and presented are making the audience pay more attention.

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Essay on Childhood Obesity Documentaries: ‘Fed Up’. (2023, December 13). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
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