A documentary blaming the food industry and the federal government for the ongoing childhood obesity epidemic followed a group of children during a two-year period to highlight their struggles to follow dietary and exercise guidelines.

The movie Fed Up, produced and narrated by Katie Couric, was being released Friday in 15 cities. The film looks at how food is made in an effort to change how Americans eat and “lays bare a decades-long misinformation campaign orchestrated by Big Food and aided and abetted by the U.S. government,” the filmmakers wrote in publicity materials.

Fed Up identifies sugar as a key culprit of the epidemic that has resulted in one in three American youths age 2-19 being overweight or obese. The problem is so pervasive in America that young people are for the first time suffering from problems typically reported in adults such as Type-2 diabetes and high-blood pressure.

The movie references the American Heart Association’s recommended guideline on added sugars intake to demonstrate how children consume too much sugar.

The AHA recommends no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugars a day for most men and no more than 6 teaspoons a day for most women. Sugar-sweetened beverages – the largest source of added sugars in the American diet – should be limited to 36 ounces or 450 calories a week.

While Fed Up is hard on the food industry, it’s important to note that there is no one simple solution to the complex issue of childhood obesity, said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., a professor at the University of Vermont and chair of the AHA’s Nutrition Committee.

Johnson, who led the scientific writing group that developed the AHA’s sugar recommendations, noted that public health advocates, scientists, policymakers and business leaders can come together to implement evidence-based solutions for this epidemic. A good first start would be stop marketing and advertising junk food to kids, especially in schools.

Some parts of the food industry have rejected the film’s premise and echoed the sentiment that the large problem requires a group effort.

In a statement this week, the Grocery Manufacturers Association said, “Reducing obesity requires everyone to do their part. For the food and beverage industry, this means constantly working to provide consumers — especially parents — with healthier options and the information they need to make choices that are right for their families.”

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Photo courtesy of Fed Up.