Sunday, February 28, 2010

Super Size Me makes big, bad impression

The food industry is killing us.


That’s the point made by Super Size Me, which was released in 2004 and was nominated for a best documentary Oscar. The movie’s point is no less true today. The food industry, led by fast food outlets, is contributing to the obesity and general poor health of Americans. As a health educator, I believe that more education addressing the unhealthiness of fast food is necessary in our schools. The dangers of fast food must be discussed in the same way that teenagers are told about the negative effects of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.

Super Size Me focuses on McDonald’s, exposing the awful truth about the ingredients in the corporate giant’s food and confirming that the menu is harmful to your health. Morgan Spurlock – the writer, director and producer of the film – put his life on the line in his documentary by eating nothing but McDonald’s food, three meals a day for 30 days.

Prior to embarking on this experiment, Spurlock had physicals from three different doctors. All agreed his health was excellent. But after just two weeks of eating only

McDonald’s food, the doctors were alarmed by the decline in his health. His blood pressure and weight increased, and his liver wasn’t functioning properly.

All three of his doctors warned him to stop the madness. By Day 22, Spurlock had gained 45 pounds, and his blood pressure and cholesterol levels were soaring. Worst of all, his liver was showing signs of becoming destroyed, a potentially life-threatening condition. Against doctors’ orders, he continued eating McDonald’s until the 30th day. He survived.

In a sense, Spurlock was addicted to McDonald’s. One element often ignored about fast food is that it is addictive, due to the high levels of sugar and fat it contains. The ingredients make you crave the food. If you don’t get your McDonald’s fix, you don’t feel good. In the hours between meals, Spurlock became increasingly fatigued, depressed and anxious. When he finally was able to gulp down a Big Mac and large fries, he would experience a fleeting feeling of relief.