The documentary opens with former Surgeon General Richard Carmona giving a speech:
"I was at a press conference after 9/11 and everyone was talking about WMD and terrorists and chemical warfare. One reporter asked me, 'What is the most pressing thing threatening the country today?' and I said, 'Obesity.' Because obesity is the terror within."
"And if we don't do something about it, it will dwarf 9/11 or any other terrorist event you can point out to me."
2 years ago, I was approached by a doctor who had spent 10 years studying obesity. He had seen my first documentary film and decided that he'd ask me to make one on the obesity epidemic. I said, "Uh, didn't Super Size Me basically cover everything?" He said, "There's a lot more. A lot. Plus, nothing's changed since Spurlock's film came out. It's gotten worse." So, I spent the next 6 months reading books, research, and conducting interviews.
My mind was blown.
So I started production on a documentary called "Killer at Large".
I felt like a scientist after 2 years. I had read dozens of books, including Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma", Marion Nestle's "Food Politics", Ann Cooper's "Lunch Lessons" and Kelly Brownell's "Food Fight".
On film, we interviewed Ralph Nader, Michael Pollan, filmmaker Neil LaBute, militant lunch lady Ann Cooper, and captured events with Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Senator Tom Harkin (who is actually a hero in this film).
I had shot over 400 hours of footage and had to edit it down to 102 minutes. How does one take a health crisis that is so complex and could fill an entire encyclopedia down to under 2 hours? Lots of coffee, Red Bull, and gut-wrenching compromises.
There were so many dots to connect:
-the evolution of humanity and our biological instinct to eat and store fat,
-cortisol hormones in our brains that tell our bodies to store calories
-modern body image expectations,
-sedentary lifestyles (we use quarters instead of spears for food now),
-a "toxic" food environment (I can buy Skittles at the car wash),
-a lack of fresh food availability in impoverished neighborhoods,
-government subsidies (Uncle Sam helps you buy the Big Mac but not the salad),
-Corn (HFCS) (Michael Pollan says 75% of what we eat has corn in it),
-Global Warming (it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel to produce 4 calories of food),
-etc, etc, etc...
Other things that blew me away were:
-Michael Pollan told us that usually when you trace back a piece of food's energy source, you end up at the sun. (Sun to grass to cow to you). Now you have to go back to oil fields in the Persian Gulf. (Oil to fertilizer to corn to cow).
-Rickets, a disease once thought to be banished, is now popping up in young children living in impoverished neighborhoods due to no access to fresh food and exclusive fast food diets.
-12 year olds are getting Type II diabetes. When they're in their 30s, they'll start losing fingers, toes, and limbs.
-Former President Bill Clinton has said, because of obesity, "This is the first generation of children to have lower life expectancies than their parents."
All in all, I'm proud of this film. And I feel even more passionate about at least getting the message out. Too many people want to point fingers at the government and industry as the problem. And too many people want to point fingers at overweight citizens for having a lack of personal responsibility. I think neither is productive and distracts from the real problem.
And you don't have enough fingers to point at the real problem.
Here's the movie trailer:
And for some reason, the website doesn't have a link to get the film. So just click here if you want to get a hold of it.