“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Well, we’re in the fight now.” – Dr. Robert Lustig, MD.
May 5th, 2015 Starting as early as infancy and increasing exponentially we are lovingly weaned on confectionary morsels of smile inducing goodies, never once thinking that the kaleidoscope of sugary treats our parents were giving us could be toxic. How could that be? How could an ingredient so beloved and ubiquitous from holiday festivities to daily meals end up being the fundamental problem in our modern diets? And yet with brainwashing efficiency and some savvy word play the International Sugar Research Foundation (“ISRF”) would rework their original party line over the decades but never strays far from their core belief – that there is no concrete evidence that sugar causes disease. Oh but there is evidence and seasoned agitators like obesity expert Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert H. Lustig and Denver dentist Cristin Kearns wade through decades of protectionist legislation, confidential documents and the deceitful marketing and advertising campaigns that has sheltered this multi-billion dollar industry to get to the roots of these lies in Director, Michèle Hozer’s cavity inducing documentary, “SUGAR COATED”.
“It’s not to say one way or the other that sugar causes disease. They need to keep it not quite clear so that policy makers can’t definitively say, sugar causes disease. They just have to keep it muddy.” – Dentist, Cristin Kearns on ISRF’s playbook.
We follow Dr. Lustig traversing the United States advocating with utmost certainty on his unique brand food safety as he makes his position abundantly clear when it comes to the sugar industry. As Lustig tells it, “I’m not the anti-sugar guy . . . I’m the anti-processed foods guy.” Linking a cavalcade of metabolic problems he now sees affecting Americans, Lustig defends his position by relying on the science behind his beliefs which forms the core of his endgame. The industry pushback was immediate and from all sides as a litany of doctors in the medical community queue up with discrediting mantras directed at him. From baseline research results like the post-war Okinawa, Japan study with its detrimental introduction of a westernized diet to the ground breaking investigative research Kearns was conducting by uncovering the historical lies the American Sugar Industry was perpetuating, we start to see the real truth behind this sweet science.
“There are 56 names for sugar; Sucrose, Table Sugar, Cane Sugar, Beet Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Agave, Maple Syrup and Honey, so the food industry can hide the sugar that they add to any given food in plain sight because no one knows what they are.”
Dr. Robert Lustig, MD
VERDICT 4.5 / 5: With a cool jazzy soundtrack from yesteryear to set the tone Filmmaker, Michèle Hozer offers up healthy and newsworthy insider narratives on deceptive food practices, questionable industry sponsorships, unethical campaigns and subversive policy initiatives offered up in bit sized easily consumable portions. A journey into how the tobacco industry playbook gets co-opted by sugar company heavy weights in order to silence their detractors gives us a window into how the bullying nature of the food game is actually played. Hozer persuasively blends an investigative reporting style in the vein of a hard hitting PBS doc with the sensibility of poignant yesteryear product placement, thus providing context to the materials throughout. To say that the findings uncovered about the sugar industry in SUGAR COATED are tantamount to an abuse of the public trust would be an understatement. And even though the sugar industry will always defer to their tried and true mandate that sugar is a safe ingredient – we know better.
FINAL THOUGHT: A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down – while the diabetes goes up up up.
Genre: Documentary, Food, Investigation
Director: Michèle Hozer
Writer: Roxana Spicer
Editor: Michèle Hozer
Associate Producer: Natalie Bibeau
Executive Producer(s): Janice Dawe, Michèle Hozer, Jane Jankovic (TVO)
Co-Executive Producer: Jan Rofekamp
Original Score: Russell Walker
Director of Photographer: Neville Ottey
Design & Animation: Nick Sewell, Hector Herrera
Runtime: 91 Minutes
Premiere: WORLD PREMIERE
Cast: Gary Taubes, Cristin Kearns, Robert H. Lustig, Craig Wilcox, Alexis Gomez, Yoni Freedhoff, Jean-Marc Schwarz, Sami Inkinen, Meredith Loring, John Sievenpiper, Frank Lisciandro, Sheldon Reiser, Judith Hallfrisch, Stanton Glantz, Arya Sharma, Kim Raine, Richard Ellis, Laura Schmidt