The art and science of good storytelling: That Sugar Film

Damon has a lot of questions, especially about sugar. He knows junk food is bad for him but he’s heard different things about how much sugar is really in “healthy” food. And he’s curious about the effects on his body. He decides to find out and share his learning experience by making a documentary – That Sugar Film. Let’s take a look at this form of communications and how it engages its audiences.

Although he has led a healthy life so far, Damon has questions in his head like: “Are healthy foods really safe enough enough for us to eat every day?” “Are cereals and other processed foods healthy, especially for children?” “How do I find out what I’m eating anyway?” Damon decided to jump into the world of sugar to try to discover the bitter or sweet truth, brought to us through the medium of documentary storytelling.

Damon starts out by consulting a doctor, dietician and other experts to gain their support to track his progress. They help him set his daily sugar intake level at the current average consumed by adults. He goes to the supermarket to stock up. He avoids junk food and just consumes food that is commonly perceived as ‘healthy’, e.g. low-fat yogurt, cereal, muesli bars, etc.

But after 60 days of maintaining this sugar intake, Damon begins to change. He puts on weight, of course, but there’s more. His seems to begin to turn into a polar bear entering a sugar-induced hibernation. He becomes too lazy to do anything when he’s not eating sugar. All he wants to do is sleep, covered with a thick blanket. He develops a breathing problem. He also begins to develop fatty liver disease. His behaviour is more like someone who is dependent on drugs – without sugar he can’t do anything as easily as before. Sometimes he screams and laughs at the same time (his “unstable” mental state) when eating too much chocolate.

The film doesn’t set out to approve or disapprove, nor make fun of people. It shows us the reality of one’s man’s experience. That Sugar Film allows us to decide for ourselves whether or not it is worth it to consume a lot of sugar. The film doesn’t try to scare us or forbid us from eating sugar – it aims to redress the information balance in a way that let’s us have our chocolate and eat it too. It shows us that we don’t need an extreme makeover to improve our health; just reduce the sugar we consume and we can be healthier. The science shows that helping people improve their ability to make better decisions is one of the key determinants of behaviour change.

That Sugar Film truly is one of the best sugar documentaries yet. It’s informative and tells a story that needs to be told. It provokes, engages and allows us to be voyeurs. That Sugar Film will forever change the way you think, in this case about ‘healthy’ food. Good storytelling should do that every time.

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