Greetings again from the darkness. Ever since Morgan Spurlock provided us with a gut check on the evils of McDonalds with his 2004 documentary Super Size Me, movie goers have shown a real appetite for information on food and nutrition. We have since had informative and entertaining documentaries on wheat, corn, fat, organics and gardening. This latest sweet film comes from Australian director Damon Gameau. He takes the Spurlock approach and personally becomes a lab rat to expose the effects of too much sugar. His mission is 60 days of eating “typical” sugar intake through what would ordinarily be considered “healthy” foods. In other words: no ice cream, candy or soda.
Mr. Gameau introduces himself as a healthy guy who exercises regularly and eats a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables. His girlfriend is 6 months pregnant as he begins this 60 day experiment into the world of sugar. There is a quick history lesson on how sugar became a food staple, and fellow Australian Hugh Jackman explains the pivotal event that occurred in 1955 – a Dwight Eisenhauer heart attack. This spurred debate between US doctors who blamed it on high fat, while the British doctors attributed it to an excess of sugar. The low-fat revolution began, and was actually responsible for the increased amount of sugar in our processed foods. We learn that a full 80% of the standard products on grocery store shelves contain added sugar.
A panel of medical experts provides the necessary tests upfront that set the baseline for blood work, enzyme levels, liver function, weight, etc. The comparison 60 days later is frightening, but it’s Gameau’s daily journey that provides the real insight and biggest eye-openers. He doesn’t spend much time focusing on any particular brands, though Pepsi (Mountain Dew), Coca-Cola and Jamba Juice each takes some serious jabs. Instead we witness his mood swings and lack of motivation for exercise.
British actor Stephen Fry explains the Glucose/Fructose make-up of Sucrose and we are given an overview of how our bodies process this – including a briefing on the role of insulin. As the days go on, we witness Gameau’s weight gain and he explains his lethargy and most surprisingly, his mental inconsistencies. He has bouts of cloudiness in a mind that was once clear. It’s this and the dramatic change in his liver that delivers the real scare.
It seems clear that all calories are not created equally (a calorie from an apple is not processed the same as a calorie from a Snickers), and that food companies have put much effort into hiding, or at least disguising, the amount of sugars added to the massive amount of processed food consumed each year by the average person. Perhaps Diabetes and Obesity and tooth decay are not thought to be immediate enough threats to cause a shift away from the convenience of processed food. Mr. Gameau shows just how dramatic and severe the changes can be in only 60 days. So imagine 5 years. 25 years. Just how much warning do we need?
watch the trailer: