Wednesday, 24 June 2015

That Sugar Film

It’s impossible to watch That Sugar Film and not think of Supersize Me as an obvious progenitor and reference point.

Both are documentaries that see their director subject himself to a different diet for a period in order to chart the effects this has on his physical and emotional well being.

This said, there are sufficient differences between the two films to allow for the existence of both. In Supersize Me Morgan Spurlock took it upon himself to eat only at McDonalds and to always take the Supersize option if it were offered to him. As such he was taking in a lot more calories than he had under his pre-film diet. Here Damon Gameau, who had previously switched to a diet free from added and processed sugars, takes it upon himself to consume the same quantity of these as the average Australian. As such he takes in the same amount of calories as he had before, but just shifts the proportions of fats and sugars in particular.

If neither man’s new diet is one that the nutritional and other experts they respectively interview would recommend, Gameau’s is arguably more in line with dominant discourses. The film’s contention is that due to the debate over whether sugar or fat in the diet is (more) harmful having been won by the former lobby fats were removed from processed foods and replaced with sugars.

This leads on to another couple of points of differentiation. That Sugar Film goes into the science of food a bit more than Supersize Me, and increasingly brings in other voices besides the filmmaker’s.
So, for instance, Gameau visits an aboriginal community which began with its inhabitants following a traditional diet and then saw the introduction of western processed foods; as he community was alcohol-free changes in morbidity could not be explained away using that framework.

The science aspects are presented, like the rest of the film, in a light, breezy and undeniably slick way. This all keeps the film accessible, but also possibly a touch light on fibre.

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