That sugar film

I have finally been able to watch “That Sugar Film” and have a few comments of my own about it. 

First of all, in my humble opinion the premise of this film is great. I wholeheartedly agree that the general, sedentary population needs as much information about the food they are consuming as possible. I say the sedentary population, because as a rule people who are physically active already tend to know a thing or two about food and their nutritional needs. There is no doubt about it that the more we talk about it more and more people will hear the message. And even though the film does not make any revelation about our food industry (in my eyes at least) it does not hurt to say what’s wrong with the system again and again. You know, I’m talking about the message we have heard so many times before from previous food related documentaries:  shop at the perimeter of the grocery store, don’t buy processed, packaged foods, avoid white flour, limit or eliminate sugar, food industry is out to get you if you don’t pay attention etc. etc.. It’s all been said before, but there are still so many people not getting the message, so why not package it again to reach some more people? What the heck! 

Second of all, the film shows us that even supposedly healthy foods have high content of sugar in them.  I liked it how the author broke down the sugar content in a breakfast of “healthy cereal”, yogurt and juice. By most people’s standards there would be nothing wrong with this breakfast, but the truth of the matter is, that breakfast item contained very a lot of sugar and not much of anything else. And I have to stress that unless you are an athlete who needs all this energy you are really doing yourself a disservice by consuming high carbohydrate meals. 

Another way of showing people how much sugar they are eating (which I thought was thought provoking) was to substitute various “non-sugar” items in his meals with the equivalent of table sugar (the white stuff) they actually contained. So for example, he had some chicken that he was going to douce with a teriyaki sauce but instead he put the equivalent of table sugar the sauce contained on the chicken. Instead of drinking a bottle of orange juice he added table sugar to water. All this to to show the content of sugar in those food items. Most people don’t realize it and the labeling system that we currently have in place does not make it abundantly clear what’s being consumed in terms of added sugar. What’s more, the labeling system tries to disguise the sugar under some obscure sounding names, making it seem like there is no sugar at all. But if you know your stuff you know that Sugar is aka the following:  

Maltodextrin, 
Dextrose,
High Fructose Corn Syrup,
Corn Syrup (solids),
Crystalline Fructose,  
Maltose,
Glucose,
Agave,
Barley Malt,
Beet Sugar,
Molasses,
Brown Rice Syrup,
Cane Juice (crystals),
Cane Juice,
Caramel,
Carob Syrup,
Diatase,
Diastatic Malt,
Ethyl Maltol, 
Fructose, 
Fruit Juice, 
Fruit Juice Concentrate, 
Glucose Solids, 
Golden Sugar, 
Golden Syrup, 
Grape Sugar, 
Invert sugar, 
Lactose, Maltose, 
Mannitol, 
Raw Sugar, 
Refiner’s Syrup,
Sorbitol, 
Sorghum Syrup, 
Sucrose, 
Turbinado Sugar, 
Yellow Sugar

Just to name a few…. So just because you are not consuming table sugar does not mean the foods you are eating don’t contain an exorbitant amount of it, often times disguised as something else.  

Now, on to the things that I find the film is lacking:

  1. It’s highly anecdotal – you get a guy who changes his diet for the sake of proving that sugar is bad. He decides to eat x-teaspoons of sugar a day to prove that his heath is going to deteriorate.  He doesn’t actually eat table sugar but counts the sugar content in supposedly healthy foods that adds up to his number of teaspoons per day (I think his goal was 40 teaspoons a day). The problem is that he claims he is eating roughly the same calories as he did before the experiment and only swapped good fats for sugar. He does not mention the protein at all. And what’s more he does not really address his physical activity that much. He mentions in passing that he tries to work out in his home gym and that it becomes progressively more difficult as he continues his sugar binge.  
  2. 2300 calories without sugar and he’s healthy and 2300 calories with sugar and he balloons up :  If you haven’t heard or seen the guy you lost weight on a Twinkie diet you should definitely google the subject. It’s all about the total consumed calories. If he is doing the same thing, as in physical activity pre-sugar and post-sugar and is consuming the same amount of calories he will be the same size. He might feel different, which brings me to my 3rd negative point about the movie….
  3. For a documentary there is too much drama in it. The main character and the author of the documentary overdramatizes how eating so much sugar laden foods makes him feel by lying around on the ground and whining or looking sloppy and disheveled – totally unnecessary.  
  4. The film focuses too much attention on food only and does not stress the importance of physical activity. You might need those sugars if you take up an endurance or strength sport.
  5. The film also vilifies the “bad foods” too much to my liking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the food, but the truth is that there is nothing wrong with treating yourself to a piece of cake. As long as you don’t do it for every meal, every day. Sugar is sweet for a reason 😛 

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