Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 film, Super Size Me, is an irreverent look at the fast food industry and it’s an eye-opener. Spurlock asked the question, “Is fast food really that bad for you?”
To find out, he decided to eat only MacDonald’s food for 30 days. Sounds simple enough (if not boring as all get out). The impact on Spurlock’s body and on his health was dramatic and completely unexpected.
Before starting, Spurlock had a team of three doctors — a cardiologist, an endocrinologist, and a general practitioner — run a battery of tests that demonstrated he was in good health.Blood tests revealed that his cholesterol, glucose¸and blood pressure were all low. His electrolytes and liver functions were good. His weight was 184 pounds, perfect for his 6’2” frame, and doctors rated his health as “excellent.”
He also saw a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist. His body fat was measured at a very low 11% and his fitness was “above average.”
The veteran New Yorker had no trouble finding Micky D. restaurants. There are 83 in the 22 miles that make up teh island of New York. To replicate the exercise average Americans get, Suprlock limited his walking to 2500 steps or less per day.
He made himself follow rules during his 30-day experiment. He had to eat three MacDonald’s meals a day — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He could only eat what they sold over the restaurant’s counter. And he’d only super size a meal if MacDonald’s staff asked him (a small size of French fries has about 200 calories; a super-sized version contains up to 800).
It didn’t take Spurlock long before he discovered that fast food can make you feel sick. After eating a super-sized double cheeseburger meal during the first days, he threw up.
In the United States, obesity is at epidemic proportions. More than two-thirds of adult Americans are overweight or obese adn there been a meteoric rise in diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, liver failure, and many other serious illnesses. The problem is even extending to our children. In fact, if the trend continues, experts estimate that one in three children born today will develop diabetes. Increasingly, health experts believe one of the major causes of this fat and illness epidemic is our consumption of fast food.
Surlock’s film examines the junk food industry’s concerted efforts to court our children, including their dominance in our nation’s schools. Footage shows young children eating nothing, but French fries and sugary sodas for lunch and MacDonald’s use of toys, games, clown images, and play areas to intice youngsters.
Within the first week of his experiment, Spurlock gained 5% of his body weight. At day 9, he began having strange symptoms like chest pressure and discomfort and he felt depressed. He noticed that even though he was taking in about 5,000 calories per day, he felt hungry soon after eating.
In 12 days, he gained 17 pounds. Within two weeks, his doctors, alarmed by unhealthy blood test results, advised him to quit the experiment. He refused. He felt lousy, but, amazingly, felt much better as soon as he ate more MacDonald’s food. His registered dietitian told him he was becoming addicted to the junk food.
By the third week, the filmmaker began to experience heart palpitations, chest pain, and breathlessness. His doctor told him he was trashing his liver, that it was fatty like that of a long-term alcoholic. All three of his doctors begged him to stop the diet and return to a low-fat diet.
Before his 30 days were up, Spurlock was a sick man — at 210 pounds he was overweight (he gained a total of 24.5 pounds in 30 days), had high cholesterol, high blood glucose, and high blood pressure. His liver values indicated lhe had serious iver damage. His fat level had soared. He had no sex drive and was often moody and exhausted.
Fast food may be inexpensive and convenient. It may taste good and even look good. Spurlock proved that it’s downright toxic to the body. If you or someone you know eats fast food, be sure to check out the classic “Super Size Me.” You’ll never look at a Big Mac the same way again.
Rent this film, check it out from the library, or check online (it’s available for free viewing).