That Sugar Film: The Not-So-Sweet Truth About Sugar

While spending a warm, sunny morning at a local Starbucks with my biweekly Caffè Latte, I couldn’t help but notice this late 30-something woman with her daughter and two sons ranging in age from about 8 through possibly 12. A nice-looking little family indeed but they actually caught my attention for a different reason.

The mother had ordered an Iced Caramel Macchiato (grande) and a glazed donut for each of the kids and, strangely, hadn’t order anything for herself.

Were these treats for the kids?

Or, maybe she was flaunting her wealth. After all, her tab was nearly 30 bucks, which is way more than the cost of a comparable purchase at a Dunkin’ Donuts.

And if this isn’t perplexing enough, I later overheard her say to the children that she “couldn’t eat that stuff!”

Be that as it may, status thing or not, why in the world was this mother feeding her children this way? Especially given that she wasn’t eating the same junk herself.

Aside from the fact that this morning indulgence for three young children was packed full of caffeine, the overall sugar content was completely off the chart—Over 60 grams to be exact. That’s nearly three times the amount that’s recommended in a whole day and it wasn’t even noon!

During the entire time of my observation, I’m thinking to myself, surely this is a form of child abuse.

But, unfortunately, it’s not.

For many folks these days it’s totally normal and perfectly acceptable to consume a breakfast that’s pumped full of sugar. Even many breakfast foods perceived as “healthy” tend to be rich in added sugars with some brands housing nearly 20 grams per serving!

It’s no wonder why sugar is blamed for the obesity epidemic and virtually every other health problem that’s linked to dietary factors.

Related Article: Dietary Sugar: The Good, The Bad and The Unnecessary

Interestingly, I recently watched an Australian documentary focused on the general science behind sugar, which was directed by Damon Gameau who also plays the lead role. Surprisingly entertaining, this flick appropriately titled That Sugar Film essentially chronicles Damon’s journey to learn all there is to know about sugar.

Admittingly a former sugar addict himself, in the three years leading up to the makings of the documentary, Damon’s diet was completely free of added sugars and refined carbohydrates and wholesomely rich in healthy fats, high-quality protein and veggies.

With a clean slate to start, Damon carries out a unique experiment in which he adopts a high sugar diet in order to document the holistic impact of such a regimen on a generally healthy body. For 60 days straight he takes in about 40 teaspoons of sugar each day, which basically equates to around four 12-ounce bottles of soda.

Now, the attention-grabbing twist to the film is that he doesn’t actually consume any soda or other stereotypical “unhealthy” carbs like pizza, cakes, candies, pastries or sweetened cereals. In truth, most people are fully aware that regularly indulging in such foods can lead to weight gain and a host of other health problems.

Related Article: Tip to Dieters: Beware of Empty Calorie Foods

As pointed out in the film, the excessive sugar intake characteristic of many people’s diets is much less apparent. Oftentimes, it’s those “low-fat”, “fat-free” and “low-calorie” foods masked as “healthy” like fruit juices, yogurts, “whole grain” cereals, and even some of the “all-natural” beverages like fresh juices and smoothies.

These are the foods that Damon ultimately lives on for the 60-day stint and the health-related consequences of his actions will utterly amaze you!

Throughout his informative, thought-evoking yet unexpectedly amusing journey, you’ll observe the adverse cardiovascular, metabolic and psychological impacts of Damon’s high sugar diet, as clearly explained and illustrated by the scientists, clinicians and other health experts involved.

The film also highlights disturbing facts about the sugar industry as a whole. In numerous scenes, experts clearly point out how the induction of refined carbohydrates and sugar-rich foods on supermarket shelves has paralleled the rising rates of obesity, diet-linked diseases and premature death.

Related Article: What You Should Know About Carbs and the Glycemic Index

In a remarkable segment, Damon features an Aboriginal community in Australia’s Northern Territory, one of the world’s oldest living cultures. Less than four decades ago, they lived in the open in a land virtually free from sugar and disease. That is, until their local supermarkets became saturated with foods rich in sugars and refined carbohydrates.

This piece alone makes That Sugar Film an absolutely must watch!

In one of my favorite segments, Damen travels across the United States where high-fructose corn syrup is the new sweet. During this particular segment, experts give their take on the widespread sugar versus high-fructose corn syrup debate.

What you’ll gather is that high-fructose corn syrup alone isn’t the root cause of the world’s health problems and there’s absolutely no evidence to prove that it’s exclusively responsible for the epidemic of obesity and other diet-related diseases. Excess consumption of refined foods and beverages is the proven culprit.

This holds true whether they’re made with table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or even “all-natural” sweeteners like agave and fruit juice concentrates! Let’s not forget, that the natural food movement is in and of itself a moneymaking market.

At the end of the day, eating a cake from Whole Foods made with “real” sugar is no healthier than eating a prepackaged version that contains high-fructose corn syrup.

Now, in an effort not to totally spoil That Sugar Film for you, I’ll go ahead and conclude by saying that this eye-opening documentary should definitely be at the top of your list of flicks to watch in the near future. You can check it out on iTunes, On Demand or in select theaters (click here for more information).

Although I regularly write about the negative health impacts of poor nutrition in general, I can honestly say that I’ve personally gained a lot of valuable insight from Damen’s work. Colorful, funny and all-around entertaining, That Sugar Film put the idea of excess sugar consumption in an entirely different light.

But, don’t take my words alone. Seeing is definitely believing!