New documentary targeting obesity says sugar, not fat the real enemy

London: A new documentary looks at the global problem of surging human obesity rates and obesity-related diseases.

The film 'Fed Up', produced by Laurie David, former wife of 'Seinfeld' creator Larry David, and narrated by TV journalist Katie Couric, seeks to challenge decades of misconception and food industry-sponsored misinformation about diet and exercise, good and bad calories, fat genes and lifestyle, the Guardian reported.

When it comes to obesity, fat may not be our friend but it's not the enemy that sugar is, the film's scientific consultant Robert Lustig, a neuroendocrinologist, author and president of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition said. It is a view that is gathering support from doctors.

A US government study recently found that 17 percent of children and young people aged between two and 19 are considered obese. Another predicted that today's American children will lead shorter lives than their parents. Laurie David, who made the climate change film An Inconvenient Truth, calls that statistic "sobering and tragic".

According to Lustig, however, neither obesity nor fat is the issue.

"The food industry wants you to focus on three falsehoods that keep it from facing issues of culpability. One, it's about obesity. Two, a calorie is a calorie. Three, it's about personal responsibility," he said.

"If obesity was the issue, metabolic illnesses that typically show up in the obese would not be showing up at rates found in the normal-weight population. More than half the populations of the US and UK are experiencing effects normally associated with obesity. If more than half the population has problems, it can't be a behaviour issue. It must be an exposure problem. And that exposure is to sugar," he added.

The film claims that fast-food chains and the makers of processed foods have added more sugar to "low fat" foods to make them more palatable.

The sugar surge adds up to a problem not only for low-income groups that are often associated with diet-related health issues, but for all levels of society, the film-makers said. The film says big business is poisoning us with food marketed under the guise of health benefits. 

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