On May 9, 2014, the documentary “Fed Up” was released.  Although I did not watch the entire documentary, its trailer was powerful enough to get me thinking about the United States food system and a public health crisis caused by a substance more addictive than cocaine: sugar.

Here’s a quick summary of the (horrifying) facts presented in the trailer:

It’s not about getting enough exercise, it’s about eating real food. You really can’t out-exercise a bad diet, researchers have proven.

80% of processed food items have added sugar. Unfortunately, added sugar is found in almost everything you buy at the grocery store: cereals, salad dressings, pasta sauces, baked goods (which includes your sandwich bread), chips, etc.

The same areas that light up when you take cocaine or heroin light up when you consume sugar. According to the documentary, sugar is actually eight times more addictive than cocaine. Sadly, most people do not have the willpower to stop consuming sugar, and can we really blame them?

Today’s generation of children is the first generation that is expected to have a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents. Today’s children have been fed and raised on sugar-filled food products since they were born. How can we expect them to change their lifelong eating habits, especially when sugar has infiltrated their schools, their homes and their neighborhoods?

In 20 years, over 95% of Americans are expected to be overweight or obese. In 35 years, one third of Americans are expected to be diabetic. Don’t be surprised if the cost of healthcare skyrockets as well.

Our current food systems are controlled by industries that place profit over health. The food industry adds sugar to almost everything, because sugar makes food taste good, which makes the food easier to market. Today’s children are exposed to sugar early on and become addicted at a young age. The more addicted they are to sugar, the more sugar-laden products they buy throughout their lifetimes and the more the food industries profit. In addition, the government puts very few regulations on the food industry and even subsidizes the production of high-fructose corn syrup (sugar is sugar, no matter what you call or label it).

But what are we supposed to do about this health crisis?  I’m sure you can spare two and a half minutes to watch the “Fed Up” trailer, and I assure you that it will get you thinking about how your food affects your health, your family’s health and society’s health. I’m fed up with our current food system, and you should be too. 

The solution to this nation’s obesity epidemic is not exercise. The solution is to change our food systems so that people start eating real, whole foods. Support local, organic and sustainable farming. Steer clear of processed, packaged food products. Spend on raw foods like fruits, vegetables and nuts. Our nation’s health needs to be prioritized over food industry profits.