Reviews

That Sugar Film Feature Story

The much-anticipated release of ‘That Sugar Film’ starring Australian actor Damon Gameau is fast approaching, opening nationally in Australian cinemas in March 2014.

That Sugar FilmOnly ten years after Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me experiment, Underbelly star Gameau’s documentary puts the spotlight on just how much sugar we are unwittingly consuming as a nation on a daily basis.

This entertaining, informative and insightful film provides startling evidence of just how much damage we are doing not only to our waistlines but also our long-term health.

The film provides damning evidence against the global sugar industry as Gameau attempts to exist on the everyday foods we are told are healthy, but are indeed filled to the very brim with the most dangerous and tantalizing food stuff on the planet ‘fructose’.

damon-scienceGameau uses himself as the proverbial guinea pig, downing up to 40 teaspoons of sugar everyday via products that are heavily marketed by food manufacturers and sold on just about every street corner.

more-productsForty teaspoons is the national average for how much sugar we ingest from seemingly innocent sources of low fat and so called healthy foods purchased from supermarket chains.

As the film progresses we watch with slow building horror as Gameau sacrifices his health to raise awareness about the secret dangers of sugar lurking in our diets.

stuffed-damon

The actor turned director becomes increasingly unwell as he eats every day low fat items laden with jaw-dropping amounts of sugars such as cereal, yoghurt and juice.

Only three weeks into the experiment Gameau’s health begins a more dangerous and serious slide, affecting him both physically and mentally.

The actor seeks to make sense out of how surprisingly high amounts of sugars can be hidden amongst foodstuffs labeled as healthy and in many cases carrying the Heart Foundations paid endorsement and highly questionable tick of approval.

The results are akin to a train wreck as his health rapidly spirals into the beginnings of fatty liver disease. This was without ingestion of food products we would normally associate with high sugar content, that being soft drink, chocolate, lollies and ice cream.

Gameau stated “the sugars that I ate during film production were found in perceived healthy foods, these were low-fat yoghurts, health bars, cereals, fruit juices and sports drinks,

these are the kind of things that parents would give their kids believing they’re doing the right thing.”food-loads-of-sugar

As we witness Gameau’s partner and actress Zoe Tuckwell Smith getting closer to having damon-familytheir first child, (The now born, cute little Velvet) , we see Gameau’s mood rapidly decline. He becomes more irritable and less focused, as he continues to hoover in the sugar.

The film shows how the actor’s mental clarity is impaired due to effects of the excessive sugar consumption on his brain. The audience also becomes aware of his rapidly ballooning weight as we watch his waistline expand.

Gameau calls his stomach his ‘protruding skin verandah’.
damon-fat-belly

Visits to the doctors and scientists supervising the risky experiment inform him of his impending obesity and the dangers of the visceral fat that has accumulated on his liver.

As the reality of the assault Gameau is purposely inflicting on his body starts to hit home, it is made abundantly clear to the audience how hazardous sugar is to the human body.

Gameau’s film imparts a serious message to his audience by tempering sobering scientific facts with colour and humour.

damon-sugar-spoonThis film will make people question what it is they are doing to their health whilst being highly entertaining in its delivery of a very serious message.

“We’re not saying people have to quit sugar, we just want them to be more aware he said. “Sugar is in over 80 per cent of the processed food we are eating”. This is a sad indictment on the health of our teens as Gameau purposely ingests slightly more sugar than the average teenager consumes in a day.

During the sixty day experiment Gameau says he ate the same amount of calories everyday but was consistently hungry, a common complaint from teens who eat a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar.

This energetic film highlights the startling facts concerning the rise in metabolic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health conditions.

If you weren’t already aware, over one hundred thousand Australians developed diabetes in the last year alone and a staggering two hundred and eighty people are becoming diabetic everyday. This film is a timely reminder that as a nation we need to realise the long-term damage we are doing to our health.

An estimated 47 trillion dollars over the next twenty years is expected to be spent globally by governments, attempting to combat the epidemic of lifestyle related chronic diseases.

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic health condition in Australia.

The total number of Australians with diabetes and those in a pre diabetic state is estimated to be over 3.2 million. Diabetes Australia says up to 58% of cases with type two diabetes can be prevented.

This documentary succeeds in making the audience understand how much of a serious impact diabetes in having on the health of global populations.

yougurt-labelThe long contentious issue of food labelling is raised throughout the film.

The actor suggests labelling, as being a key factor to the population’s lack of awareness about how much sugar exists in food products designed and promoted and marketed to be healthy.

Gameau believes labelling is ambiguous as so many people are unaware that four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon. So something with 24 grams of sugar will actually contains 6 teaspoons of the toxic and highly addictive substance.

This begs the question as to why consumers are being left in the dark by health authorities (who know better) as to the damage being caused by foods promoted as being good for Australian adults and children.

Expert on all things sugar and author of titles Sweet Poison and Big Fat Lies,

Gillespie-on-sugarAustralian David Gillespie contributes to the documentary as an expert on the evils of fructose.

Gillespie is well known for his opinions regarding the lack of action health authorities take to acknowledge and make the general public more aware of how dangerous sugar is to the health of society as a whole.

Gillespie recently published a story on his website criticising the Australian Heart Foundation for its hypocrisy regarding the debate on sugar and its role in the obesity epidemic that grips our nation.

He quotes Heart Foundation chief executive Mary Barry in a story printed in the AGE, that 60 % of Australian adults and a quarter of children are now classed as overweight or obese. The Heart Foundation has been lobbying the government to put a tax on sugar water. Gillespie slams the Heart Foundation as contradicting themselves when they are endorsing foods containing ridiculous amounts of sugar.

“The Heart Foundation has no problem accepting licensing fees from the manufacturers of these sugar laden foods”, Gillespie states of the organisations healthy heart tick of approval program”.

On his blog Gillespie puts forward well-known brands of cereal as examples of how people are misguided by the Heart Foundations endorsement of so called healthy foods.

Kellogg’s Just Right and Nestle Milo Cereal contain 28.7 and 27.3 grams of sugar respectively, (approx. seven teaspoons of sugar per serve). Both cereals have the Heart Foundations tick as a healthy option.

Gillespie is only one of the many highly popular and familiar characters lending their public profiles to the film.

Actor Stephen Fry makes a cameo appearance, lending his support to the audience education campaign by teaching us about sugar in poetic verse, as do other high profile actors Hugh Jackman, Jessica Marais, Isabel Lucas, Brendon Thwaites.

The film includes high profile science journalist, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and dodgy science investigator Gary Taubes.

TaubesTaubes weighs in on the argument that health authorities are continuing to promote faulty scientific data, going back as far as the 1950s.

Taube’s says health authorities continuously ignore the fact that saturated fat is not the cause of heart disease or diabetes but it is sugar and high carbohydrate foods that are the leading players in the global obesity epidemic.

During the documentary Taube’s goes on to state that the sugar industry insist that calories are calories no matter where they come from.

He says the calories we consume from sugar can do dramatically different things to the body than the calories consumed from other types of foods such as Broccoli for example.

Taube’s says it’s about the quality of the calories we eat, not the amount of calories, as the sugar industry would have us believe.

The film makes it very apparent that the sugar industry want us to think we are lazy and gluttonous.

The sugar industry leads people to believe it is their problem as consumers if they eat too many calories from the very foods the sugar industry are cramming down our throats via brazen and scandalous advertising messages. These are the very campaigns which state those foods are healthy for us.

snacks

This documentary lifts the lid on how food manufacturers have very little interest in changing the amounts of sugar they put into processed foods, indeed they are highly complicit in what they are doing to ensure their profits stay staggeringly high. This is despite full knowledge the consumption of their products are contributing massively to the gigantic burden of healthcare.

These companies take full advantage of gullible adults and children through slick marketing campaigns and as That Sugar Film points out, the food giants are in your face everywhere you go. Unfortunately that’s not likely to change.

The film takes a sharp turn from watching the actor comically (but grossly) struggle to force down truckloads of sugar, to a town called Amata in outback Australia. Here we become witness to the devastation sugar is having on an isolated outback community.

This is the moment in the film where it really hits home the damage sugar is doing to the most vulnerable people in Australia, our first Australians.

We are guided by John Tragenza, aka the ‘Crusader’, as he shares the hidden story behind the many preventable deaths of his family and community members. Deaths largely due to the consumption of excess sugars and a western diet not designed to be eaten by Australia’s indigenous folk.

In 2008, a program called Mai Wiru was created and supported by the community to get rid of the sugary foods that were impacting so heavily on the health of Amata’s population.

In a bid to improve the health and well being of local families, the Amata Community Council had the highest selling sugar drinks removed from shop.

Here is an excerpt from the Mai Wiru website.

“In the 12 months prior to their removal from the store, consumption of these beverages amounted to $178 000.00 in sales, 40 000 litres, approximately 4.2 tonnes of sugar and about 73 million kilojoules for the calendar year 2007. Sales for Coke alone amounted to over $91 000.00 or 20 000 litres.

“The withdrawal of the three top selling soft drinks did not affect the total volume of all beverages (soft drinks, diet soft drinks, cordial, water and juice) sold but created a shift in purchasing trends resulting in a reduction of sugar and kilojoules consumed”.

Mai Wiru was working towards ensuring people had access to good healthy produce and that products high in sugar got the axe from the local supermarkets.

The program, originally funded by the Australian government, lowered the level of sugar consumption in the community through education and nutritional programs. That is until the much needed funding was slashed.

The chronic disease crippling this community is devastating to say the least. The soaring rates of early deaths in indigenous communities in general is directly attributable to the amount of sugar and western diet consumed by it members.

A removal of funding for programs like Mai Wiru is a sad indictment of how the Australian health authorities are abandoning our indigenous people when they need help the most.

That Sugar Film isn’t just a documentary. There is an acompanying book and an ongoing education campaign, focusing on inspired and fun learning opportunities.

Schools wishing to participate can check out the link here.

The website offer schools a study guide, the film, book and some special bonus items in their School Action Kit.

The school-screening program will commence once the film has finished its cinema run.

King of the healthy food in schools movement ‘The Food Revolution’s’ Jamie Oliver describes the film as a “definite must-see”.

sweet-poisonAs mentioned earlier, David-GillespieDavid Gillespie (Sweet Poison), features prominently in the film as Gameau’s sugar expert. I asked Gillespie if he thought health authorities would take notice of the documentary and its message.

“The movie has the potential to push its message into the Australian consciousness. A movie can move people to awareness particularly if it is at the innovator end of any market” Gillespie said.

Damon Gameau’s unique and bittersweet journey is definitely well worth watching.

The doco will surely ignite a spark in the sugar-fried brains of people all over the world, allowing them to see how insidious and prevalent it is in our everyday diets and it is to our detriment if we continue to ignore this poison in our foods.

That Sugar Film is a great mix of irreverent humour, academia and science.

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If you or someone you know needs help with the low carb, high fat way of eating to either lose weight or enhance their health and well-being, send them to Keto Cure Me. As a registered nurse and diabetes educator, There is help available and I can Skype anywhere in the world to help you get started.

Heal yourself with food & take care,
Michelle Turnbull… Keto Cure Me

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