Diabetes and obesity therapy has always included a focus on the importance of diet and exercise, though success on this front for most people has been elusive (an oft-cited stat: two thirds of people in the US are overweight or obese, and the highest BMI segments continue to grow the fastest). At this year’s ADA, which ended Tuesday, we noticed a focus on lifestyle interventions that reaffirmed this trend (improved diets equal improved weight and glycemic control) and shared a common plea: improve your diets! However, as noted, behavioral changes have proven to be exceedingly difficult for Americans to adopt. Historically, much of the blame has been placed on the patient, widely considered a consequence of their unwillingness to wean themselves off hamburgers and lumber off the sofa. We appreciate that the reality is more complex.
Robert Kenner’s new politically charged film Food Inc., released yesterday in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, puts forward ways in which the ability to make lifestyle changes is influenced by a higher power: a highly mechanized food industry that skews the system to bad calories - unhealthy, artery-clogging, obesity and insulin resistance inducing calories.
In this documentary, author Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) characterizes the food industry as one that promotes a diet that frequently leads to serious health problems. For example, in a powerful scene at a youth health community group (in which topics including diet and exercise are discussed), the group is asked how many of them have a relative or close family friend with diabetes. Then, how many had two … then, how many had three. Seeing how many in the room knew at least three people with diabetes hit home the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in a way that all the usual statistics do not. The implication of the movie is that the families of most people in the class cannot afford healthier foods. In a follow-up segment, Schlosser asserts that the biggest predictor of obesity is income level and contends that these poor eating habits have contributed to the epidemic levels of diabetes.
We found Food Inc. to be an informative, albeit one-sided, commentary on the traditional food industry and its health consequences. We were happy to hear the mention, although brief, of the industry’s effect on the current diabetes and obesity epidemics as we think it will raise further visibility of the problems. While we think this film has an important message, we would have liked to have seen more explicit emphasis on the far-reaching effects our eating habits have on healthcare costs. Ideally, we would like to see much more focus on solutions – perhaps government programs that could subsidize healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, and introduce taxation of soft drinks and other unhealthy foods that contribute to obesity.
- by Tony Sheng, Mark Sorrentino, Jessica Swienckowski, and Kelly Close
 Unfortunately, although we haven’t completed our review of all posters, there was really nothing that we saw that seemed incredibly likely to change adherence problems significantly