You may recognise Damon Gameau’s face from both the big and small screens (Underbelly, Razzle Dazzle and now Gallipoli & The Kettering Incident), but it’s his role in That Sugar Film that could be his most memorable and rewarding yet. Damon Gameau is the star, director and human guinea pig in a documentary that takes a confronting look at the bitter side of the sweet stuff that’s saturating our supermarket shelves.
That Sugar Film began as a simple experiment. Damon was researching the dangers of sugar when his partner Zoe Tuckwell fell pregnant with their first child. Having recently reformed his own unhealthy habits, he wanted to set the record straight on sugar before his baby is born. Damon consulted a range of health and medical experts on the potential dangers of a high-sugar diet. After discovering the average Australian consumes 40 teaspoons of sugar daily, he decided he would do the same, over the course of two months. Just this week, the World Health Organisation updated their recommendation to cut our daily intake to about 6 teaspoons of ‘free sugars’ a day.
Damon didn’t take the Super Size Me approach though, gorging on junk food and chocolate. That Sugar Film targets hidden sugars; those filling foods that are marketed as ‘healthy’ everyday choices. Damon replaced his whole foods diet with low-fat yoghurts, muesli bars, fruit juices, boxed cereals, flavoured milk and low-fat processed foods. Damon admits he wasn’t even aware of the extent of the risk he was taking at the outset, “I didn’t expect to get the results I did…I was scared we wouldn’t get anything. We just wanted to see what would happen.” But as the results show, those seemingly small changes Damon makes in his diet take a shocking toll on his health (I’ll leave you to watch the story unfold, yourself).
That Sugar Film isn’t an ordinary documentary that for many can cause the mind to wander. Damon takes you on his rocky sugar-fuelled ride with him. His diary-style entires are both candid and comical. Cameos from famous faces like Hugh Jackman, Isabel Lucas and Jessica Marais, animation, visual effects and stories of how everyday people battle with sugar, make the film both informative and powerful. What is often both a complex science and a contentious debate is instead delivered in a digestible way, “The great news about that is that children will want to watch the film, and they’ll hopefully learn from it” he says. It should come as no surprise then, that when I asked who he most hoped wanted to see the film, his answer was definitive; “School kids! We are trying to get it into schools around the country…a lot of us learn from the mistakes we’ve made…it’s very important to share that with kids and cut them off at the pass.” Gameau has developed study guides and even an app to help children take away what they learn in the documentary to apply it at home.
Thankfully, Gameau was able to regain his own health quite quickly, following his sugar binge, “I’m back. I’m back on track. There’s a slight bit of man fat above my belt line which is a reminder of the film…(but) all my symptoms turned around in about 2 months” he explains. No doubt that offers those sugar addicts out there some hope for redemption.
As a former smoker and fast food lover, Damon admits he never could have predicted he would become an anti-sugar crusader, “How the hell did I write a book and make a film about sugar? I’ve met some incredible people and learnt a lot. I’m very passionate about it now.” He is currently touring Australia to share the film’s potent message; “we don’t demonise sugar…we are simply presenting the information in the hopes that it’s taken up, most importantly by children.”
That Sugar Film has quite literally, consumed every part of Gameau’s life for the past 3 years. But having developed such a passion for his health message, no doubt there will be another Gameau production on the horizon; “I’ve certainly got some ideas…I’ve obviously got to respect this story…then I’ll start thinking about the next thing.” he explains. For now though, it’s all about That Sugar Film.
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller.
She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health.
As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her appetite for adventure.
Read more about Skye’s story here.