The practice I work @ had its first MOVIE NIGHT (a big shout out to D-vo for the idea), and it was awesome.  Great company and a great movie Super Size Me the 2004 documentary of a man named Morgan Spurlock and his insane challenge (to himself) to eat nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days.

Below is the gist along with some commentary by yours truly ;-p

His STATS: At the beginning of the 30 days, Morgan was evaluated, weighed, measured, poked and prodded by a registered dietitian (RD), exercise physiologist and three separate MD’s (GP, cardiologist & internist). The RD expressed concern with what Morgan was about to do, but none of the other specialists thought that the diet change would have any extreme effects on his health! One MD said that because he had a family history that didn’t include many lifestyle diseases, he had “great genes.” The cardiologist thought his TG’s (triglycerides) might go up a little.

Morgan appeared fairly healthy @ 6’2″ tall / 11% body fat / 185 lbs / blood panel including liver enzymes, cholesterol (~160) and TG’s all within normal limits. Again, one MD was quoted saying “you have great genes.”

The Rules:

  • He must fully eat three McDonald’s meals per day (at breakfast, lunch, and dinner time).
  • He must try every item on the McDonald’s menu at least once over the course of the 30 days (he managed this in nine days).
  • He must only ingest items that are offered on the McDonald’s menu. This includes bottled water. Any and all outside consumption of food is prohibited.
  • He must SuperSize the meal when asked, but only when asked. He is not able to SuperSize by his own accord.
  • He will attempt to walk about as much as a typical U.S citizen, based on a suggested figure of 5,000 standardized distance steps per day,[5] but he did not closely adhere to this, as he walked more while in New York than Houston. (Wikipedia)

The movie takes us through not only Morgan’s journey through McDonald’s madness, but also through America’s (and the world’s) journey through fast food history. He goes over many shocking statistics about the fast food industry as well as a lot into details of school lunch programs and the health of our nation and our food supply.

Interesting movie stats:

  • McDonald’s feeds roughly 40 million people each day, and outnumbers other fast food companies by 2 to 1 in many areas.
  • McDonald’s is mentioned during the movie to have two classes of users of their restaurants: There are the “Heavy Users” (about 72% of customers, who eat at their restaurants once or twice a week), and the “SUPER Heavy Users” (about 22% of customers, who eat McDonald’s three or more times a week). But no one was found who ate at McDonald’s three times a day. Spurlock said that he was eating in thirty days the amount of fast food most nutritionists suggest someone should eat in eight years.[14]
  • Morgan’s average intake of calories over the month was roughly 5,000 per day (double his requirements)
  • Many prominent junk food CEO’s die of cardiovascular disease.
  • The size of a McDonalds drink/fries in the 50’s is now either the small or kids size, and the large is often 3-4x as big now (including the Super Sized soda coming in at over 42oz and Super Sized Fries coming in at over 500 calories).

Would you like 500 calories with that?

  • The movie starts off with some terrible Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s song being sung by some preteens at summer camp?!

The Results:

“After five days Spurlock has gained 9.5 pounds (4.5 kg) (from 185.5 to about 195 pounds). It is not long before he finds himself with a feeling of depression, and he claims that his bouts of depression, lethargy, and headaches are relieved by a McDonald’s. His general practitioner describes him as being “addicted.” He has soon gained another 8 pounds (3.5 kg), putting his weight at 203.5 lb (92 kg). By the end of the month he weighs about 210 pounds (95.5 kg), an increase of about 24.5 pounds (about 11 kg). Because he could only eat McDonald’s food for a month, Spurlock refused to take any medication at all” (although his internist recommended a daily aspirin at one point, which drives home the message to me that our medical system is designed to treat our unhealthy disease producing lifestyles rather than get to the root cause and help people change how they eat, move and think for health). “At one weigh-in Morgan lost 1 lb. from the previous weigh-in, but it was hypothesized by a nutritionist that he had lost muscle mass, which weighs more than an identical volume of fat.

Spurlock’s girlfriend, Alexandra Jamieson, attests to the fact that Spurlock has lost much of his energy and sex drive during his experiment. It was not clear at the time if Spurlock would be able to complete the full month of the high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, and friends and family began to express concern.

In Day 21, Spurlock has heart
palpitations. His internist, Dr. Daryl Isaacs, advises him to stop what he is doing immediately to avoid any serious health problems. He compares Spurlock with the protagonist played by Nicolas Cage in the movie Leaving Las Vegas who intentionally drinks himself to death in a matter of weeks. Despite this warning, Spurlock decides to continue the experiment.

Spurlock makes it to day 30 and achieves his goal. In thirty days, he “Supersized” his meals nine times along the way (five of which were in Texas, three in New York City). His doctors are surprised at the degree of deterioration in Spurlock’s health. He notes that he has eaten as many McDonald’s meals as most nutritionists say the ordinary person should eat in 8 years (he ate 90 meals, which is close to 8 years of eating it once a month).” Wikipedia.

My take: We literally are what we eat, our magnificent body has no alternative than to build our eyes, brain, blood vessels, hormone receptors, skin..etc with what we eat. So if you eat toxic and deficient food (Fast Food by definition, not mine, theirs: During the movie, we are shown that it is actually written in McDonald’s operations manual something to the extent that their food is not healthy) your body will be toxic and deficient. Try building a home out of tin and sticks vs steel, bricks and lumber!

So, I expected to see some seriously deleterious changes to Morgan’s health, but I was even surprised to see how much Morgan’s health deteriorated in just one month. His cholesterol shot up to 230 and his liver enzymes measured similar to an alcoholic (his liver was dying, and when it goes, you go), his doctors told him to stop the experiment just over 3 weeks because they thought he could seriously or permanently injure himself. I’m going to repeat this: in roughly 3 weeks of consuming an all McDonald’s diet Morgan went from a healthy guy with “great genes” to a man with blood chemistry and liver damage of that of an alcoholic who was advised if he did not stop this eating pattern he could seriously injure himself or die. Hmmm where were his great genes now? Does this support that our genes really are a blueprint and it is our environment (food, exercise and thoughts choices) that provides the building supplies or what!!?

I was surprised at many of the stats in the movie because I kind of live in this wellness bubble and surround myself with healthy people and people who are in the process of becoming healthier, so seeing how much of America eats and lives was eye opening (we have a lot of work to do).

The Movie Night Participants had about a 30 min discussion afterward about genetics, the health of our country, weight gain and loss and why it is simple, but not always easy (it took Morgan 14 months to lose the weight he gained in the McDonald’s Month) and what it means to eat for health.

What we didn’t get a chance to discuss at Movie Night was the empowering principle that every dollar we spend is a vote for the types of food in grocery stores and restaurants, and that is one of the great things about capitalism. The mighty dollar has powerful voice, and the market will listen, so if we keep spending our money on organic and the healthiest options there will be more and more of them as time goes on. Voting with purchases will also affect the cost of those items in a positive way, so keep on voting for your health by buying and eating healthy organic veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, oils and meats.

Shop (and don’t eat crap) 4 Health,

Dr. Nicholas Araza DC CCWP