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Obesity epidemic film and discussion with Dr. Jani set July 11

Food industry promotes sugar-filled diets that fuel chronic illness
June 25, 2017
Uday Jani

The Film for Thought Series will screen “Fed Up,” an eye-opening documentary on the food industry's role in the obesity epidemic, at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 11, at Lewes Public Library. Lewes internist and integrative medicine specialist Dr. Uday Jani will lead the community conversation after the film.

Jani will offer unique insights on the vital impact of diet in preventing disease. He says, "I am gratified to help shine a light on this important issue, and encourage people to really consider the foods they're buying, dining on and serving to their families. The messages in this film will start a conversation which can be life-changing."

"Fed Up" follows a group of families trying to lead healthier lives, and it reveals why the conventional wisdom of "exercise and eat right" is simply not working for them and millions of other Americans. The film presents the food industry's role in fueling the obesity epidemic by promoting sugar-filled diets. At its core is the shift from whole foods to processed foods high in refined sugars, driven by an industry that has failed for more than 30 years to respond to the epidemic of health problems resulting from these changes. The documentary, produced by Katie Couric and Laurie David, captures interviews with the country's leading experts regarding the decades-long campaign by the food industry to mislead and confuse the American public into adopting unhealthy eating habits that are damaging to all.

"A growing body of evidence now implicates the excessive intake of refined sugars in the development of many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease," says Jani.

The statistics are of deep concern. For the first time in history, more people are dying from the effects of obesity than from starvation. In 1990, 12 percent of Americans were overweight, but today, 35 percent of adults, and almost 1 in 5 children and adolescents are clinically obese.

According to Jani, consuming as little as one sugar-sweetened soda daily has been associated with increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease. A 20-ounce soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar, causing a fluctuation in blood sugar that places a heavy load on the body's metabolism, and frequently leads to craving additional sugar. A typical sugar-sweetened breakfast cereal isn't much better, getting the day off to an unhealthy start.

"When you eat carbohydrates like sugars, beans, whole grains, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables, your body breaks them down into blood sugar (or glucose)," says Jani. "Assisted by the hormone insulin, blood sugar enters your cells. The problem lies in excess glucose generated from a high-sugar diet, which results in higher amounts of insulin being released, and leads to inflammation, inner belly fat storage, increased blood triglycerides and elevated blood pressure, all associated with higher risk of cardiovascular and other disease."

Sugar-added foods are everywhere, found in breads, catsup, soups, salad dressings, crackers, cereals, yogurt, sauces, instant oatmeal, desserts and soda. Jani says the solution is a diet of low-glycemic-index foods that are high in fiber, such as vegetables, fruits, beans and peas, that will help keep blood sugar stable. Other strategies to reduce excess sugar in the diet include drinking only healthy beverages and no diet or regular soda, reading labels to avoid the hidden sugars found even in healthy foods such as fruited yogurt, and snacking on whole foods such as fresh fruits, hummus, string cheese, nuts and seeds, and plain yogurt.

"Choosing whole, not processed foods, is the first and one of the most important steps I encourage my patients to take. The difference it can make in terms of feeling energetic, focused and healthy is transformative," says Jani.