The written word cannot express how vehemently I believe that food must be seen as nothing more than food – not a self-righteous choice, not good or bad, not fattening or slimming, not a political statement, just food!
And no one’s opinions about food makes me crazier than the self-righteous, self-appointed food finger pointer, Morgan Spurlock, who was the creator and "star" of "Super Size Me." The movie’s premise was to watch Spurlock force food into his smug mug for thirty days, and watch what happened. Okay, spoiler coming up – he gains weight. He choose to overeat exclusively at McDonald’s and to stop exercising. What the point of that was still escapes me, other than to show that OVEREATING (regardless of who made the food) and NOT EXERCISING has a deleterious effect upon the human body. He believes it shows that McDonald’s is bad for you. Never let facts get in the way of a movie that grossed $28 million worldwide, and has led to Mr. Spurlock’s personal success, and that of his girlfriend after she "de-toxed" him. He’s now the "go-to" guy about nutrition.
And I’m not the only one that finds the premise of this movie half-baked.
In the Netherlands, Wim Meij, a reporter with the Algemeen Dagblad (a Dutch newspaper), performed another experiment. He also limited himself to eating at McDonald’s, but instead of choosing just any meal from the menu, he chose carefully, with an emphasis on salads. He came out at least as healthy as he was before he started his 30-day experiment and lost 6.5 kg (14 lb) in the process.
In New Jersey documentary filmmaker Scott Caswell also performed a similar experiment. The results of his diet can be seen in his movie, which is titled Bowling for Morgan. It can be seen for free at BowlingForMorgan.com. Like Spurlock, Caswell consumed only McDonald’s food, but generally opted for the healthier choices and did not gorge himself—a fact that Caswell oftens compares to the overeating done by Spurlock, who was often seen forcing himself to eat when he was not hungry. Over the course of the experiment, he lost 19 pounds and his cholesterol fell sharply.
Soso Whaley, of Kensington, New Hampshire, made her own film about dieting at McDonald’s, called Me and Mickey D. The film follows Whaley as she spends three 30-day periods on the diet. She dropped from 175 to 139 pounds, eating 2,000 kilocalories a day at McDonald’s. The film was funded by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (Whaley holds a C.E.I. fellowship).
Raleigh, North Carolina resident Merab Morgan went on a 90-day diet in which she ate at McDonald’s exclusively, but she limited her intake to 1,400 kilocalories (5,900 kilojoules) per day. She lost 37 pounds in the process.
San Antonio, Texas resident Deshan Woods went on a 90-day diet in which he lost nearly 14 pounds. He documented the entire experiment on his website LiquidCalories.com. His overall health improved while sticking to a diet mainly in burgers and fries. He stayed away from sugary drinks and stuck to non-caloric beverages instead. His average caloric intake was 2,500 kilocalories a day, which included 130 grams of fat. His cholesterol dropped from 204 to around 160.
By way of comparison, the Starvation Study conducted at the University of Minnesota in 1944-45 used a starvation diet of approximately 1570 kilocalories a day on conscientious objectors for six months, causing an average 25% loss in body weight, simulating the loss of residents of the Warsaw Ghetto. The starvation study found for purposes of weight loss—and subsequent weight gain—it really did not matter what food one ate: what mattered was how many calories one ate. Of course, the focus of that study was not on blood chemistry, cholesterol, or liver function. We use this study at Green Mountain at Fox Run to demonstrate effects of semi-starvation, aka dieting: pre-occupation with food, rapid weight regain plus more once normal caloric intake restored, depression, short tempers, food hording, etc.
Professor James Painter, chair of Eastern Illinois University’s School of Family and Consumer Sciences, made the documentary Portion Size Me. The film follows two graduate students, one a 254-pound male and the other a 108-pound female, as they ate a fast-food diet for a month but in portions appropriate for their size. Both students lost weight and their cholesterol improved by the end of the experiment.
It’s easy to point a finger, Mr. Spurlock, until you realize that 3 fingers are pointing back at you.