As someone who has significantly reduced the amount of processed foods and particularly sugar from my diet, I can’t imagine taking on this crazy experiment myself. For 60 days, Damon Gameau, sacrifices his healthy body and consumes a high sugar diet, documenting the effects this has on his body, emotions and health.
The scariest part is that he doesn’t seek out junk food for this experiment. Instead he only eats foods which are commonly perceived as healthy. Think low fat yogurt, ‘healthy’ cereal, muesli bars, juice, sandwiches etc.
Earlier this year the World Health Organisation published draft guidelines recommending the average daily intake of sugar for an average adult should be 6 teaspoons. However, the average Australian is having up to 40 teaspoons of sugar a day. This is the magic number that Damon went with to increase his sugar intake to each day.
On the first day of his experiment his breakfast included cereal, low fat yogurt and a glass of apple juice. A common breakfast for many people, including children before a day of learning at school. The sugar content was 20 teaspoons. This left us thinking about how easy it is for people to be consuming 40 teaspoons a day and also, what is the consequence of all of this sugar on our health and wellbeing?
Along with following Damon on his sugar laden journey, the film is punctuated with facts about how sugar affects our brain, our hormonal system, our organs and our emotions. We take a look at how the brain responds to sugar, the ‘sugar high’ and how we become addicted. We learn about the history of sugar and how it came to be included in 80% of foods we see on supermarket shelves. We also hear how marketing and big business has impacted the availability and inclusion of sugar in most food products.
During the experiment, Damon travels to the USA. This portion of the film was incredibly fascinating to me as it was at this point that he found it very difficult to find ‘healthy’ foods. The majority of foods were straight up junk food. It was also during this part of the film that we were introduced to the negative effects of soft drink on people’s health and appearance. I was horrified to hear that some parents put soft drink in their baby’s bottle. I was also horrified to hear that it is ‘normal’ in some areas to drink 12 cans of Mountain Dew a day. I was even more shocked to see the effects of this on a 17 year olds’ teeth, or lack of.
In just a week he had put on 2kgs. By the end of the 60 days he had added 10cm to his waist and was in danger of a variety of illnesses if he continued the diet. His appearance had changed significantly, not only was he bigger but he had dark circles under his eyes and his complexion was dull.
Damon’s story is fascinating and the facts behind it are compelling. It is all presented in a highly entertaining and engaging format. He obviously has a sense of humour and this really succeeds in keeping the audience involved the whole way through.
The main take away from the Q&A session was that this is something each one of us has power over. We may watch a film about global warming and think, “What can I do about it?” But with this film, the message is that each of us is empowered to make our own choices that positively impact our own health right now. On your next supermarket visit, put less packaged food into your trolley and only shop from around the aisles. Eat real food!
In my cinema there were a variety of age groups enjoying this film, from young kids to old folk. I encourage everyone of every age to go and see this film. Take your kids, your parents, your grandparents. You can make a change to the way you eat at any age!
The final question after the movie was from a young girl around the age of 8. She asked how she could get That Sugar Film into schools. She got it. At 8 years old she got the message that there needs to be a change with the way we eat. Isn’t that encouraging?
Have you seen That Sugar Film? What was your key take away? What surprised or inspired you?
Find out more about That Sugar Film here.