Sugar is in just about everything we eat and most of the time we don’t even realise it. That’s the message from ‘That Sugar Film’, by actor and filmmaker Damon Gameau.
Watching this film it reminded me of the 2004 documentary ‘Super Size Me’, where filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate McDonald’s food for 30 days, and looked at the health implications of that on the body.
Damon and a host of experts designed a similar experiment, enlisting the help of Sweet Poison author David Gillespie, Associate Professor Ken Sikaris, Clinical Pathologist with Melbourne Pathology, Nutritionist and Naturopath Sharon Johnston, and GP Dr Debbie Herbst.
Damon tells us most people eat 40 teaspoons of sugar a day, so that’s the level he’ll use for his experiment. (4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon) But he won’t be eating junk food and lollies – he will reach that level in everyday ‘healthy’ foods.
What got me was Damon’s breakfast on Day 1. This totally freaked me out! 2½ cups of the breakfast cereal Just Right, with Ski Low fat yoghurt and apple juice – that’s 20 teaspoons of sugar to start the day!
So it looks incredibly easy to eat 40 teaspoons of sugar a day without eating junk food.
Damon takes us to the Aboriginal community Amata, to show us the change in that community due to sugar. He also takes us to the United States, where he speaks to experts and shows us how the sugar problem is so much worse over there. He introduces us to 17 year old Larry, a boy who’s been drinking the sugary drink Mountain Dew since he was two or three, drinking about 12 cans a day. His cousin who is three, drinks six or seven cans a day via his bottle. I had to pause the film at this point and grab a glass of water.
Only last month the World Health Organization (WHO) released new guidelines for adults’ and children’s sugar intake. They recommend reducing the daily intake of free sugars (added sugars) to less than 10% of their total energy intake. “A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.” The WHO says it’s the hidden sugars that are the problem, not the sugars found in fresh fruit and vegetables.
Damon acknowledges that sugar isn’t the be all and end all to health problems, but it’s a start.
What I like about this film is that it’s not trying to shout and preach at you to stop eating sugar. Damon shows us what sugar can do to the body, he gives us the information and then it’s up to us what to do with it.
Damon has also released ‘That Sugar Book’, published by Pan Macmillan, which details the experiment, the science of sugar, coming off the sugar and recipes.
Just reading through the comments on the That Sugar Film’s Facebook page, it has certainly hit a chord. There are so many positive comments from men, women and families seeing this and deciding to make a change.
The next time you are doing your grocery shopping just take a moment to read the sugar section of the label and remember: 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon.
That Sugar Film is out in selected cinemas now (check local guides) and if you get a chance check it out. But just don’t go via the candy bar!
** Still images and trailer courtesy Madman films. © 2014 Madman Production Company Pty Ltd, Old Mates Productions Pty Ltd, That Sugar Movie Pty Ltd, Screen Australia.
** Book image courtesy Pan Macmillan Australia