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Super Size Me [May. 7th, 2004|11:47 pm]
한국 사람이 아니다
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I don't eat fast food. I never really have done. The closest I come to fast food is meat buns and bahn mi in Chinatown. So it was a special sort of revulsion that I watched Morgan Spurlock try to kill himself in Super Size Me.

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."

[User Picture]From: tsgeisel
2004-05-08 07:54 am (UTC)
I understand the point that he's trying to make, but even before the recent menu changes, McDonalds did have salad and other healthier options. Does Spurlock avail himself of those, or does he just go for the fries, shakes, burgers, etc?

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[User Picture]From: talonvaki
2004-05-08 07:58 am (UTC)
Yes, he did.
One of his ground rules was that he had to eat everything on the menu at least once.
But something they say in the film is that even the "healthy" salads have as much fat as a Big Mac.
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[User Picture]From: nonethewiser
2004-05-08 01:43 pm (UTC)
I am very much looking forward to seeing this.
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[User Picture]From: talonvaki
2004-05-08 03:50 pm (UTC)
There's a few ooky parts, but it's still amazing. Check out the website, too...
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[User Picture]From: kteeski
2004-05-08 02:55 pm (UTC)

McDonalds is clearly a piece of the problem

There are also plenty of Americans who don't eat at McDonalds and have a weight problem.
Glad the exercise bit was thrown in - that is a huge problem.
As are proportions.
It's really that at the root of the problem.
I read an article in Self years ago that compared the size of American proportions to those found in Europe. Even down to muffin sizes. Hundreds of extra calories.
Americans simply don't understand the idea of *serving size*.
Americans want more for their money...the bigger the better. Then complain about their waistlines.
To me the big thing is portion size and exercise.
Plus the fact that Americans in general eat too many processed foods laden with sugar and salt.
We are a lazy culture - with a strange attitude toward food.

Chinese food (the way Americans eat it in general) is one of the worst foods to eat if you are trying to lose weight.
Let's face it, people don't order brown rice and steamed chicken or veggies (except maybe me and one of my friends) - they go for eggrolls, General Tsao's chicken...that sort of thing.
Hidden calories and fat in sauces. The one thing I have learned from people who did Weight Watchers is that the *points* assigned to even the most benign types of dishes on the menu are outrageous.
But how many Asian people do you see with weight problems?
It's due to the way it's prepared to suit American tastes.
Vegetable fried rice. Rice and vegetables...right? Wake up, it's fried. It's greasy.
Don't even get me started on salad bars.
Americans need more education on choices and eating healthy.
And you are right - it does start in school lunch programs.
Cheap food is usually bad. Look at the research that has been done on people who come from low income families - they can buy alot more processed stuff like mac and cheese than fresh, healthy things - so they do.
And yeah, eating at McDonalds is fast, easy and cheap for a large piece of the population.
(not everyone has access to a Chinatown or the knowledge of where to go and what to buy)
I just heard something on the radio saying that you can consume half your calories for the day just having an iced coffee from Starbucks....but who stops to think that something like that is going to sabotage your diet?

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[User Picture]From: talonvaki
2004-05-08 03:49 pm (UTC)

Re: McDonalds is clearly a piece of the problem

Yes, I should have pointed that out, that I tend to eat Chinese food like a Chinese person, not the "tourist food" that most people tend to think of when they think of "Chinese," the breaded, deep-fried, buried in sweet sauce junk you get at Asian Express in the mall.

Starbucks is bad, too. But I have discovered that you can get the Pete's Coffee version of a Frappucino (a "Freddo") made with skim milk instead of 2% if you ask. Starbucks makes very few of their frozen blended things with skim milk.

It was a little startling to learn that I walk more in the morning before work than the "average American" walks in a whole day, though...
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From: michaelpath
2004-05-27 08:45 pm (UTC)
Morgan Spurlock is an engaging subject; imagine Michael Moore, only more affable and witty.

...and 3 more McMonths away from Michael Moore's weight.

Hopefully I get to see this movie this weekend. The showtimes were limited out here, and I ended up catching "Goodbye Lenin" instead (also a great movie).
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[User Picture]From: talonvaki
2004-05-27 08:49 pm (UTC)
Ooh! I have been wanting to see Goodbye Lenin...but it's at the inconvenient theatre at inconvenient times...

Perhaps tomorrow...I get out of work early because it's a holiday weekend...
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From: michaelpath
2004-05-27 08:51 pm (UTC)
Do go see it! It's one of the few German language films I've ever laughed at.

The concept is brilliantly executed, too.

As long as you can deal with subtitles, you'll enjoy it.
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[User Picture]From: talonvaki
2004-05-27 09:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, I have no problem with subtitles...one of my favourite movies is Man Without a Past, and I watch HK Comedies a lot...
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