comment and reply on the two sources.
1. a. As the film portrays Michelle Obama’s efforts, food lobbies did seem to really hinder any major progress she had aspired to in the beginning of the campaign. Despite the scene in which she excitedly announces agreements with various major food industries, it becomes evident that the food industry put pressure on her to not make them look bad. When they wouldn’t actually help, she was forced to retack even though she didn’t want to. It’s most disappointing when in an interview she talks about how the Let’s Move initiative isn’t about “forcing them to eat their vegetables,” in a sense demonizing any healthy eating movement. I do believe the initiative still had traction, but it is disappointing to see how much potential was wasted by capitalism.
b. As we learn in the documentary, low fat foods naturally taste worse. Consequently, the food industry had to find a way to keep marketing and selling these products; they had to make these foods still taste good. So, they add more sugar to the low fat foods to compensate for the lack of fat. While they might seem healthier by claiming low fat, if you look on the back of the packaging, there’s twice as much sugar in these products. We additionally see an increase in cheese product as the dairy industry started to take the fat out of whole milk to sell more skim milk. Using the milk fat surplus, government then pushed cheese and we saw 5% increase in cheese consumption. However, this came in unhealthy forms like hot pockets and cheese whiz.
c. This film did not make me feel very hopeful about the direction of our national health. It is frustrating to see that these big food lobbies have more power than the president, revealing who really has all the power in our country. It feels like every time our government tries to improve national health, they just get bought out by the food industries. In this way, I fault both the food lobbies and our government. They are not powerless against these groups, they just need to be willing to make some sacrifices. The one thing that did make me feel hopeful was seeing how the cost of healthy eating was not really that much more (and sometimes even less) than the cost of fast food or processed foods. I hope that message can be spread farther to encourage people to really consider how much it would cost them to eat better.
2. a. I agree that the film made it appear that the food producers here in America exerted their significant influence (by way of campaign contributions and other lobbying efforts) to change the narrative from a “let’s move in the right direction” mindset to more of a “we aren’t getting enough exercise” thought process. The film made it a point to stress that the exercise portion of the “Let’s Move” campaign did not play that large of a role initially, it wasn’t until the marketing people at these food producing companies decided they could spin that phrase that exercising became the focus of the campaign. The film made it seem as though the initial intent was to move away from fast foods and producers of unhealthy school foods and towards healthier, more natural school menu options for school-age children. The initial intent does not help the profitability of the food producers and that is why they felt the need to “change the narrative” of the campaign. Rather than helping to raise healthy children, these large corporations decided to focus on maintaining healthy profit margins.
b. The line that stuck out to me from the film was “when you take out the fat, you take out the flavor.” These food companies needed a way to make their “low-fat” food products more palatable, so they added sugar. The documentary does a very good job at explaining that “a calorie is not a calorie” when it comes to calories from processed sugar (candy, corn syrup, etc.) rather than unprocessed sugar (from fruit). Natural sugars eaten from whole fruits slowly increase blood sugar and make it last for longer periods of time because they also contain fiber and other nutrients that help in that process. However, processed sugars do not have those additional nutrients to help the body process the sugar, so it goes directly to the pancreas (to prevent over-working the liver) which increase insulin production and helps to convert that sugar directly into fat.
Low fat and low calorie foods often replace the “tasty” fats with sugar or artificial sweeteners, which the body treats as processed sugar, in order to make these foods palatable. By introducing these sweeteners to the body, they are encouraging fat production that will last for longer periods of time than if they were to have “full fat” products.
c. I am hopeful that the information from this documentary can reach far more people now than it did when the film first came out. With the advancement of social media and other platforms, information spreads much farther and wider than it ever has before. If there is to be any positive movement in the diets of Americans, it needs to become household information. From there, we need to accept that information as a society and as a culture. I personally think that people do not take the information out there seriously because of the attitudes of most Americans. If I were to comment on the weight of a friend or relative, I open myself up to claims of “fat-shaming” rather than a person concerned with the health and well-being of that friend/family member. This culture we live in relies entirely too much on blaming others for their own issues. Rather than looking inwards, identifying a problem, and developing a solution, we find it is much easier to point the finger at someone else and claim it is their fault.
This is especially true when you look at the price difference that was highlighted in the documentary where a family meal from a fast-food restaurant was close to $30, and a home-cooked meal containing natural ingredients was less than $17. So, the producers brought attention to the claim that eating healthier meals is more expensive and therefore out-of-reach for low-income families. This goes back to blaming someone else, “it’s your fault I don’t eat healthy” is an excuse and the people that claim that need to do some self-reflection to figure out what they are doing wrong and how to fix it.