Are Carbs, Sugars Really Addictive? “Fed Up” Zeros-in On Sugar

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Is sugar really addictive? A new documentary - Fed Up - is coming out and it's gunning for the Sugar and food industry.  But is it more a hatched job or an unbiased look at obesity in America?

Is sugar really addictive? A new documentary – Fed Up – is coming out and it’s gunning for the Sugar and food industry. But is it more a hatched job or an unbiased look at obesity in America? Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane and

There’s a lot of talk of food being addictive. I’m not sold on it. Unlike drugs, you actually need food to survive. I know there is “research” showing that carbs and sugar trigger the same area of the brain that drugs do, but so does sex and a whole host of other things that give us pleasure.

The study in question just showed that when faced with choosing between rice cakes and Oreos, rats picked the Oreos. Hell I would too. They are tasty little treats, but that doesn’t equal addiction in my book.

Now, I’m not a fan of fast digestive carbs (breads, grains, pastas) and believe carbs make us fat. But addiction is too easy an explanation and lets the diet industry off the hook for pushing junk science supporting today’s high carb/low-fat diet myth. Fig Newtons may activate my brain’s pleasure areas, like crystal meth, but that doesn’t mean they are addictive.

I don’t put a lot of stock in most food studies. Heck, the CDC just announced they were completely wrong on salt after years of saying  we need to limit salt to 1500mg a day.

Besides, who knows what science will consider healthy in the future?

Does “Addiction” Mean Anything Anymore?
The word “addiction” is meaningless today. I’ve used it to describe my binge watching of Breaking Bad or my strange love for YouTube cat videos.  Neither of those activities chemically alters my brain and/or burns out my dopamine receptors. It seems as if the word is used to explain away any type of enjoyable behavior.

Now it looks like busy bodies do-gooders are starting to zero in on sugar. A new documentary coming out, Fed Up, targets both the Federal government’s food guidelines (which are crap!) and the food industry.

I want to like this film, but…

My Concerns About “Fed Up”
Fed Up opens in May and, yes, I do plan to see it. But I’m worried that it will be in the same vein as Super Size Me — a dishonest hit job with minor truths mixed in.

When I first watched the trailer for Fed Up, it appeared the documentary would actually take on the stupidity dominating public health for 50+ years — eat less/exercise more (calories in/out theory) and eat a high carb/low-fat diet.

But then it mentioned sugar addiction (not proven) and then paraded politicians attacking the food industry (my BS detector went off the charts when these clowns showed up).

That’s not to say I think sugar is healthy. Refined sugar is not, but I don’t think regulating it is the solution.  If you really want to make a dent in the obesity “epidemic” (another overused word) then it comes down to ripping apart the idea of high carb/low-fat diets and calories in/calories out thinking. Both are actually making us fatter.

It does look like the film will tackle the big role government plays in causing obesity. And that is something the public needs to understand. I’m no fan of the government guidelines — both the food pyramid or that stupid plate! But what do you expect when the USDA, the department responsible for promoting US agriculture (WHEAT!), is responsible for setting the dietary guidelines? I’m as shocked as Captain Renault with the results.

The government had a big hand in causing this problem, and looking at the trailer for Fed Up, I’m worried that the filmmaker point of view is that only government can fix it. Really!?! Do you really think that the people who caused this problem can actually fix it?  The most recent genius government proposal related to obesity was warning labels on sodas.  Ha! As if we didn’t know consuming drinks with lots of sugar packs on pounds.

Sorry, but the last thing I need is for Big Brother to tell me how to eat or to impose spurious regulations that’ll jack up food prices even more.  What people need is unbiased information so they can make their own choices.  Until that day comes, I suggest you read Why We Get Fat so you’ll have the right information needed to change your life.

Why Do We Need A Villain?
I’m also not offering a blanket excuse for food companies. Yes, labeling should be more open and honest. But I can’t attack a company because they are trying to make their processed foods taste better. Their job is to sell food to people who live in a world with lots of other choices.

Yet, from the trailer, the film seems designed more to get me to hate those big, bad, for-profit food companies and not take a look what is really making people fat.

Why are we always looking for a villain?

What if we told people this: “The public health science from the 60s and 70s which our current dietary dogma beliefs guidelines are based on is seriously flawed. As technology and our understanding of dietary science improves, we’re learning that the current dietary advice is wrong and is making us fat. Because government and the diet industry (American Heart Association, dietitians, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc.) stressed high carb/low-fat diets, you (the public) wanted ‘healthier’ food. In response, the food industry created low-fat foods. But when you take fat out of food, you need something to replace it. Otherwise, it’ll taste like cardboard. So the food industry replaced fat with sugar or fructose corn syrup (which, to me, is far worse than cane sugar), thus jacking up the carbs and resulting in an increase in obesity and diabetes.”

Too long for a bumper sticker, doesn’t quite fit in the “reduced fat” bubble floating on the somehow guilt-free package of “reduced fat” Oreos. So we need a villain to keep audiences engaged (you know, because we’re not smart enough). Sigh…

Food companies aren’t the enemy here. They do a lot of good. You know, eradicating famine and keeping hundreds of millions of people alive. I avoid processed foods as much as possible–because I can afford to. It’s very easy for Americans to complain about processed foods, GMOs and the need to “eat local” when they can go to Whole Foods anytime. Try telling that to a parent in sub-saharan Africa desperately trying to keep a child from starving. I don’t look at food companies as the bad guys, I simply look at them with my eyes wide open.

My hope is that Fed Up is honest and doesn’t let the diet industry off the hook. The diet industry has led the charge advocating high carb, low-fat diets and has pushed the bogus calories in/calories out thinking on weight loss. They’ve clung to faulty nutrition science for years…and why not, it’s generated $20 billion dollars for them. I also hope the trailer is misleading and Fed Up really takes an honest, non-political bent to the obesity problem.

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