The best films and TV programmes on public health

I often come across films, tv programme and documentaries that cover public health issues, either on purpose or as a by-product. I thought it would be good to collate all of the media I’ve come across into one place, so here it is!  It is UK-focused, but I am very happy to add other suggestions. Just leave a comment, or you can find me on twitter.


Films

Supersize Me

This is a classic, demonstrating just how bad fast-food can be for our bodies. ‘Supersize me’ follows a man who decides to eat McDonalds for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 30 days – ‘supersizing’ his meal whenever he is given the option. The results speak for themselves.

That Sugar Film

I’ve already mentioned this in my ‘giving up sugar‘ series of posts. This follows an Australian actor who adds sugar into his currently sugar-free diet through only eating ‘healthy’ foods. i.e. no, chocolate, ice-cream, sweets, biscuits etc. We watch him suffer the effects of all that added sugar and it’s an entertaining and informative watch.

Wall-E

Wall-E isn’t a film about health, but it shows just where we could head as a society if we were to let ourselves just be passive receivers of information. I love this film about a ditzy gabage-collecting robot, but I’ve always thought it has a brilliant health message in it too.

Contagion

An entertaining and terrifying peek into what might happen if a lethal virus were to spread throughout the world – and what the public health response might look like.

Thank you for Smoking

This film gives a fascinating insight into the workings behind the tobacco industry, how they promote their products, and just how scarily good they can be at that job.

And the Band Played On

Follows the story of the discovery of the AIDS epidemic  – and the politics that went with it.

Sea of Change

This is an amateur film that is very worth watching. ‘Shared spaces’ are becoming more common in the UK, and involve the blurring of pavements and roads to slow traffic down. This film shows just how dangerous it is for the blind and partially sighted, and how their needs were disregarded.

Miss Representation

How women are portrayed in the media and the effect it has on how women are viewed. I haven’t seen it yet, but The Mask You Live In also explores how the masculine identity affects boys in America. Gender affects so much of our lives, mental and physical health included, these films make us aware of that.

I recommend checking out the public health film society.


TV Documentaries (available on Netflix)

Cooked

‘When we learned to cook is when we became truly human’. A brilliant documentary series by Micheal Pollan about cooking with real food and regaining our connection to it. I have to admit a bias here, because I love Michael Pollan.

Vegucated

An interesting look at what happens when some meat-addicted New Yorkers agree to become vegan for 6 weeks. More about the food industry than health per-se, but worth watching in my opinion.

Fat, sick and nearly dead

Follows a guy in poor health who decides to go on a juice fast for 60 days to kick-start his health. I don’t necessarily recommend what he does, but I certainly found it thought-provoking.


UK TV programmes

(These might not be available to watch)

Food Unwrapped

A Channel 4 series exploring how our food is produced. Do you know what you’re eating?

Trust me, I’m a Doctor

A BBC series presented by doctors aiming to answer health questions.

How to stay young

A light-hearted look at the ageing process. Can we prevent ageing and stave off all the diseases that come with it?


Do you know of any others that you think should be on this list? I know there are many more! Comment below or tweet me!

 

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