That Sugar Film
Directed by Damon Gameau (2014)
Last night Maori TV showed the Australian documentary That Sugar Film. So far it’s the best documentary I have seen about the western world’s sugar addiction and the 50 years of fake science (sponsored by the food industry) resulting in the cult of the “low fat diet.” Sadly the low fat diet – the major culprit in our current global epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer – continues to be promoted by many western doctors and public health officials.
The film starts by tracing the original domestication of sugar in New Guinea. From New Guinea sugar cultivation traveled to India, which would be colonized by the British in the 1600s. During the 17th century, sugar was a status symbol for royalty.
Sugar consumption in western society was fairly moderate until 1955, when President Eisenhower’s heart attack highlighted the growing incidence of heart disease. Battle lines were drawn in the scientific community between the American Ancel Keys, who blamed increasing heart disease on fat, and British scientist John Yudkin, who blamed it on sugar. Thanks to a small fortune the food industry spent on studies demonizing fat and lionizing sugar (and major donations they made to US politicians and advocacy groups such as the American Heart Association), by the 1970s Keys had won out and the cult of the low fat diet was institutionalized.
Despite the total absence of independent research, doctors, dieticians and public health officials persuaded millions of patients to eliminate fat from their diets. Owing to shocking levels of sugar in processed foods, the vast majority inadvertently replaced the fat with sugar.
Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau replicates this process through an experiment in which he replaces the fats in his diet with supposedly “healthy” processed foods such as low fat yogurt, muesli (granola), fruit juice and smoothies and beans on toast (a favorite comfort food in Australia and New Zealand). The conditions of his new diet are that he must consume 40 teaspoons of sugar a day without eating any candy, deserts or junk food.
His doctor monitors him very closely throughout the experiment. In less than a month he has put on significant weight (without increasing his caloric intake) and is showing signs of liver damage. He is also experiencing major mood swings and bursts of hyperactivity similar to children with ADHD.
Available on the Maori TV website for the next two weeks: That Sugar Film