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Sugar Coated


Is sugar toxic ? For forty years, Big Sugar has been able to counter all threats to its multi-billion dollar empire. As obesity, diabetes, and heart disease rates continue to skyrocket, doctors are now treating the first generation of children suffering from fatty liver disease. We are sitting on a dietary time bomb.
The sugar industry is under siege again but today the critics have gotten smarter, bolder, and madder and science is catching up. SUGAR COATED is an urgent film about where we are now with sugar and how we got here.

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Running Time: 85 min.
Subject(s): Activism, Children, Food, Health, Investigative Journalism, Society
Language(s): English
Producer(s): Michèle Hozer
Editor(s): Michèle Hozer


  • "If you want to know how sugar politics really works, see this film!"
  • We’re all taught to think of sugar as the most natural of sweet things, bringing smiles from cradle to grave. But it’s actually more poison than benefit, Michèle Hozer persuasively argues, in an exposé that gives sugar and its corporate pushers many lumps …Robert Kenner’s recent Merchants of Doubt …makes a good companion piece for Sugar Coated. After seeing this film, you might never eat a doughnut or drink orange juice again.
    Peter Howell, TORONTO STAR
  • Director Michèle Hozer gets the recipe just right in Sugar Coated as she whips up an intelligent argument with a dash of playful humour. This doc smartly articulates the dangers in consuming sugar in excess quantities, and audiences are likely to swallow this dose of what’s good for them given how succinctly and sweetly Hozer conveys the argument. …Don’t let the sweet tooth of Sugar Coated fool you: this is one sharp doc. Hozer tackles the health risks of sugar with a shrewd eye that looks at the industry from all angles.
  • The great thing about this feature doc is its point-of-view filmmaking, a refreshing break from the bland TV-news approach. A couple of apologists for the big sugar companies are included, but the main thrust of almost every interview is to underline either the nefarious effects of over-consumption of sugar and/or the aggressive manoeuvres of the sugar titans to counter any negative reports about sugar.
    Brendan Kelly, MONTREAL GAZETTE
  • Sugar consumption continues to be a huge problem, so this documentary is extremely relevant and worth seeing …it is less fear mongering and more factual than most other documentaries like it, which is a refreshing way to tell the story …after watching this film, you’ll think twice about having a soda.
    Danita Steinberg, TORONTO FILM SCENE

Festival & Awards

  • Hot Docs - 2015
  • CPH:DOX - 2015
  • DOXA Documentary Film Festival - 2015
  • Reykjavik international Film Festival - 2015
  • Milan International Film Festival - 2015

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  • More on Film
    There is a moment in this film that is decidedly unscientific. But it’s just so true. If you’re a parent, as I am, you’ll get it immediately. Gary Taubes, a very measured, methodical science writer who becomes our unofficial ‘tour guide,’ uncharacteristically veers off script to make a personal observation.

    “When you have children, it seems like the world would be a much simpler place without sugar in it. Then I wonder if they would be much more…stable, if their mood swings would be much less volatile if they weren’t consuming sugar.”

    I can relate. I would come home from work and see my son stretched out on the couch, groaning about how bad he felt. I’d ask him what he’d eaten. “A huge bowl of cereal and don’t ask me which kind!! Please Mom,” he’d say, “Can you make me some broccoli?”

    I was born across from a chocolate factory in Belgium. I was too young to remember this myself, but my mom tells me you could smell the aroma of chocolate from morning to night on the street. Talk about a kid’s paradise! I was addicted to those famous chocolates with the elephant stamps on them that even today, are a classic icon of the Belgian diet. But as we all know, too much of a good thing comes at a price. Today, obesity and diabetes rates are at unprecedented levels around the world. Something’s going on. Can it really be sugar? As a filmmaker, I knew this was a story worth following.

    I’ve been a career dieter all my life. I think most women are. I’m also a jogger. I count calories. But who knew that all calories are not created equal? I didn’t. Not until I actually dug into the research for Sugar Coated.

    It was only when our team uncovered two vintage documentaries that I had a personal epiphany. We’ve been through this whole debate before. Scientists knew, over forty years ago, that sugar contributed to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. People were actually fighting to put tobacco-like warning labels on sugary foods. And then, somehow, the debate just faded away. Why? What happened? Do we all have collective amnesia? Then, the discovery by Dr. Cristin Kearns of the sugar industry documents from a defunct sugar factory convinced me: there is a much larger story to be told.

    Almost everything we eat these days contains sugar, in one form or another. It’s disguised with many, many different names. We are talking about an international, multi-billion dollar industry that has refined a lot more than sugar. It’s refined its messaging and its ‘pitch’ to the public, one spoonful at a time. In the end, I hope this film is an antidote.

    Will there be change? I think back to a You Tube video I came across in which a tobacco executive states that some pregnant smokers would prefer to have smaller babies anyway. We laugh about that now. It’s so outrageous. But that was only a few decades ago. Right now, we may be witnessing the beginning of real transformative change in the way we see sugar and the processed food industry. If that’s so, you can thank the cast of characters in Sugar Coated.

    If nothing else, through all this, somehow I’ve been the Mother Confessor for all my sugar-addicted friends. We all have guilty pleasures. I still long for those Belgian chocolate bites. But I’ve trained myself to walk away from the glass counter. I’m happy just to savour the aroma, just like I did on the streets of Brussels.

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