That Sugar Film

Synopsis: One man's journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar. Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as 'healthy'. Through this entertaining and informative journey, Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Damon Gameau
Production: Samuel Goldwyn Films
  3 wins & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
90 min

My name is Damon Gameau.

This is my weatherboard house.

This is a time-lapse

of my girlfriend's pregnancy.

There's three months to go.

And this is a photo of me at age 10.

I was a rare boy whose face

grew into his teeth.

Five years ago,

when I met my girlfriend,

I was pretty much living on cigarettes,

sugar and my homemade Australian pizzas.

But then, as men often do,

they feign interest in things

to impress a girl.

The lovers' bike.

For me, it was healthy eating.

I actually cut out refined sugar

from my diet to seal the deal.

But now sugar is

dominating the headlines

and there's so much debate

and conjecture on the topic

that it's hard to know what to believe.

But with this little person on the way,

I feel like I need some

definitive answers.

If the average Australian family of four

had to buy the sugar

they are consuming in a week,

they would be going to the supermarket,

taking six 1-kilo bags of sugar

off the shelves... six...

taking it home, eating it all that week

and then going back next week

and doing it again.

Clearly, the ability to be

on a high-sugar diet

is really new,

especially in terms of

evolutionary time zone.

Sugar has become

so prevalent in today's society

that if you removed

all the items containing it

from a standard supermarket's shelves...

just 20% of items would remain.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,

this is the condensed history of sugar.

The first reports of sugar came

from New Guinea in 8000 BC.

Local mythology says that

the human race came about

after a man made love to

the stalk of a sugar cane.


Then, via trader migration routes,

the cane made its way to India.

Thank you.

In the 12th century,

sugar arrived in Europe.

And, due to its rarity,

it quickly became

a status symbol for royalty.

Queen Elizabeth I had

a real love of sugar.

So much so that her teeth rotted

and went black from it.


At the start of the 20th century,

sugar was still seen as a treat...

something you would add to

a cup of tea or cup of coffee...

but then, in 1955, an event occurred

that significantly influenced

the amount of sugar we eat today.

A stunned nation

hears that its president

is stricken with a heart attack at...

On September 23, 1955,

the US President Dwight Eisenhower

suffered a heart attack

and the issue of heart disease

was thrust into the public domain.

Summoned to the hospital,

a famed Boston heart specialist...

Two strong theories emerged.

One, led by an American

scientist named Ancel Keys,

who declared that fat was the problem...

while a British doctor named John Yudkin

believed sugar was to blame.

I'd be very happy if everybody

ate four pounds of sugar a year.

They eat a hundred pounds!

Over the next two decades,

the discussion brought fierce

arguments from both camps.

But by the end of the 1970s,

Ancel Keys had won out.

Fat became the villain,

sugar was exonerated,

and the low-fat movement

was in full swing.

We institutionalised this idea

that a low-fat diet is a healthy diet.

So what you want to do is remove fats...

This is how industry perceived this.

We're gonna remove fat

from otherwise healthy foods,

and when we do this

we have to replace the calories,

we have to make sure

we have the right mouth feel.

And it has to taste as good

as it did with fat,

and the best way to

do that is with sugar.

With sugar now

saturating our food supply

and the constant confusion

over its effects on our health,

the only real way to get some answers

is for me to start eating sugar again

and see what it does to my body.

So the first step is to set up

an experiment

with the help of a team of experts.

My chief sugar adviser is

the author David Gillespie...

aka The Crusader.

In charge of my blood tests

is one of Australia's

leading clinical pathologists,

Dr Ken Sikaris, aka Professor Blood.

My nutritionist is Sharon Johnston...

the Celtic Food Queen.

And supervising my overall

health is Dr Debbie Herbst,

aka Check Upz.

OK, so, I want to do this mission,

I want to find out

what sugar does to me.

What kind of things do I need to do?

If you want to match

Australian averages,

you're gonna have to be in the range,

40 teaspoons of sugar a day.

- 40 a day?

- Yeah, 40 a day.

That's what's embedded in

most of the processed food

that most people are eating.


Right, so does that mean

I'm gonna eat a lot

of these kind of sour rainbow blowpipes?

I mean, is that... How am

I gonna get to 40 teaspoons?

You won't need to come near a place

like this to get to 40 teaspoons.

You just go to a supermarket

and you'll get to 40 teaspoons.


The point is to test out

a very high sugar diet

and to see what effects we get,

what changes I notice in the body.

Two months, I wanna eat

40 teaspoons of sugar a day.

- 40 teaspoons?!

- 40 teaspoons.

How are you gonna do that?

Off-the-shelf breakfast cereals,

like Just Right,

low-fat flavoured yoghurt.

Another good one would be

some beans on toast.

Baked beans?!

One serving of an iced tea,

you'll end up with nearly

nine teaspoons of sugar.

If I can achieve 40 teaspoons a day

without touching perceived

candy or junk food...

I mean, I can't quite fathom

that's possible,

but if we can do that

and see some changes,

then that's, yeah, that seems

like a pretty good story.

A lot of your health markers

Rate this script:4.0 / 4 votes

Damon Gameau

Damon Gameau is an Australian television and film actor who is the director of, and lead role in, That Sugar Film. Gameau also appeared in the Australian series Love My Way, the 2002 Australian film The Tracker, and in a small role in the US series How I Met Your Mother. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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