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Fat Head Movie Review

Written by Anika DeCoster, RD, CPT, CISSN - LifeTime WeightLoss

Recently, thousands of 90-Day Challenge participants gathered for our very first Try-It Tuesday Nutrition Theatre event. We watched the hilarious nutrition documentary, Fat Head.  This film is not only one of the most entertaining in its genre, but also absolutely one of the best depictions on how so much of we’ve been told regarding obesity and healthy eating is false.  The film was directed by Tom Naughton, a writer, comedian, and blogger. In case you weren’t able to join us, below are just a few of our favorite lessons learned from Tom Naughton’s.  But there are many more, so to get the whole story make sure you rent or buy it for yourself! 

We can’t blame all fast food for the obesity epidemic

In response to the popular documentary Supersize Me, Tom Naughton starts his film off by eating fast food (every meal) for 30 days and actually loses weight and positively influences some of his lipid values.  How did he do that?  He said no to fries and sugar-sweetened soda by limiting his carbohydrates every day, showing that it all fast foods, but the carbohydrate-rich processed foods, that are to blame for the obesity epidemic.   He also makes the point that fast food chains continue to grow and surround us based on our demand for a convenient lifestyle.  Nobody forces us to eat this food and most of us know it isn’t healthy to eat on a regular basis.  Tom isn’t necessarily encouraging you to eat fast food as your main nutrition, but more to prove that it’s “what you choose” to eat that has more of an impact on your body composition.  As a Life Time dietitian, I often help my clients to not only learn to cook quick and fast meals , but also help them select the best possible options when faced with fast food or restaurant dining, which often mirror many of Tom’s food selections in the film — protein and vegetables.

Low cholesterol can be unhealthy

We’ve become a fat-phobic nation; so much so that most Americans think any cholesterol is bad.  But that is far from true.  Many of the physicians and nutrition experts in the film drive home the importance that fats have at the cellular level.  Each cell has a foundation of an essential fat and your brain is mostly made up of fat.  If you deprive your body, you essentially starve your cells and brain from working optimally.  Animal fat and cholesterol are important for optimal health, and if your cholesterol is too low, there’s a chance you’ll be more prone to other health concerns, such as depression or low testosterone, and more at risk for a cardiovascular event.  Another good point the movie made was that it’s not the total amount of cholesterol that increases your risk for a cardiovascular event, but more the LDL particle size along with other inflammatory factors. 

Being fat is a “symptom” of poor health

This was our favorite point made in the movie.  Too often we consider obesity as the initial health problem, but if we think of it as more of a symptom of poor health, we might be more inclined to make a change.  If you eat a high–sugar and/or high-carbohydrate diet, your body will have to produce more insulin to keep your blood sugar down, eventually leading to insulin resistance that can cause weight gain and diabetes.  

I often tell my clients that “being skinny” doesn’t always mean being healthy, and there are many thin or skinny individuals that still have a low-quality, high-carbohydrate diet.  It is this population, skinny, yet not healthy eaters, who are the hardest to convince to make changes. Their body isn’t “symptomatically” storing too much body fat, so on the outside they look healthy Some individuals don’t display the “symptom” of body fat gain, yet they can be just as unhealthy as those who are overweight. That’s why we feel lab testing is such a critical component of a good nutrition and exercise program. 

Glucose imbalances or insulin resistance is a common area of concern in people’s health and a big contributor to why they gain weight. Others include sex hormone imbalances, thyroid dysfunction, food sensitivities and stress hormones to name a few. 

Have you seen Fat Head?  If so, comment below about your favorite takeaways from the movie! If you’d like to hear more from Tom Naughton, check out his blog at

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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Reader Comments (7)

Loved the movie..mostly part 2. Great for the visual learners like myself :)

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKeri

Great movie!

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom Nikkola

When our teenagers were learning the food pyramid in middle school, I was more then tempted to send this movie to their health teacher. Somehow, I don't think the school district would approve. This is a great movie that is appropriate for the whole family.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

I plan on showing part of this movie during the "Fats and Oils" lecture for TWL participants. I think alot of them need to hear the underlying message. I especially liked the comment from the MD's about how females have no business being on statin medications. Interesting perspective and gave our members quite a bit to think about. Thanks for sending it!

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Piccolo

One of the most important movies made in our lifetime, seen by the fewest. Thanks for spreading the word. In addition to this everyone needs to go to YouTube and watch Tom's "Science for Smart People" and "Big Fat Fiasco". If you've ever been fat, or thought of getting fat this will is must viewing. Tom Nikola, thanks for doing your part!!! Tom Naughton, you're a GREAT American Patriot!!

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Just to help you out .. . . "He said no to fries and sugar-sweetened soda by limiting his carbohydrates every day, showing that it all fast foods, but the carbohydrate-rich processed foods, that are to blame for the obesity epidemic." Not to be a jerk, but since this is essentially your thesis statement, you might want to clarity what you are trying to say. Thanks!

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ

This sentence needs to be reworded:
"He said no to fries and sugar-sweetened soda by limiting his carbohydrates every day, showing that it all fast foods, but the carbohydrate-rich processed foods, that are to blame for the obesity epidemic."

Other than that, it is a good article.

April 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ.D.

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