60% of Americans are either overweight or obese. On any given day, 1 in 4 Americans eats fast food, and McDonalds is the biggest seller of all the fast food restaurants. Obesity, called an "epidemic" by the Surgeon General, is quickly overtaking smoking as the #1 preventable cause of death among Americans. Morgan Spurlock, inspired by the two girls who tried to sue McDonalds for making them fat, decided to find out if there was a connection. His mission: eat nothing but McDonalds food for 30 days.
He starts out extremely fit, 6'2" and 185.5 lbs. He's in better than average condition for his age. His girlfriend is a vegan chef, so he's been eating healthy food. He starts out...and it's not easy. His first week is very tough, and he even throws up. But by the end of the experiment, he's craving McDonalds food. He becomes irritable and gets severe headaches when he hasn't eaten at McDonalds for a while, and after he gets a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder, he becomes relaxed and happy...sounds like an addiction, doesn't it? He becomes manic-depressive, he gets chest pains, he can't climb stairs anymore, and his sex life suffers. His trigylceride and cholesterol levels skyrocket, he gains 24.5 lbs, and his doctor tells him his liver has gone from healthy to "paté." It took him nine months to get back to normal after this experiment.
It's frightening. Granted, ever few people eat all their meals at McDonalds, but think of the people who eat there several times a week. After a month, Morgan had ingested 30 lbs of sugar - a pound a day - and 12 lbs of fat. And the portions he was serves were immense: a super-sized container of fries weighs 1/4 lb! He was taking in an average of 5,000 calories a day, 200% of the amount needed to maintain his healthy, normal weight.
Added to the fast food problem is the fact that Americans simply do not get enough exercise. The human body evolved to be long-distance runners - we are adapted for endurance exercise, not sitting behind a desk, sitting in a car, and sitting on a sofa. People don't even walk on escalators anymore. Of course, urban dwellers tend to be slimmer than their suburban counterparts: the average New Yorker walks an average of 4-5 miles a day. But, as a walking expert explains in the film, a mile is 2000 steps, measured on a pedometer. An average American, driving to and from work and taking an elevator to their office, can take as few as 3000 steps a day. That just isn't enough to stay healthy.
Morgan Spurlock is an engaging subject; imagine Michael Moore, only more affable and witty. He's entirely upfront and candid about his deterioration: we see him throw up 22 minutes after ingesting his first Super-Sized Quarter Pounder meal.
It seems I managed to dodge a bullet, growing up, by not eating school lunches: school lunch programs are often subsidised by the fast food industry, and children are conditioned to eat burgers and fries at a very young age. Not drinking sugary sodas is huge, as a nutritionist explains: a person can often reduce their calorie intake significantly by simply not drinking sweetened beverages.
This movie will make you think again before eating fast food, if you do, and make you glad you don't eat it if you don't. It's a movie everyone should see...
As one expert muses, "It's socially acceptable to hector smokers in public. But it's not socially acceptable to hector fat people, even though their health risk is higher than the smokers."