Before Morgan Spurlock began filming Supersize Me, he had three doctors examine him. Why?
Because in 2002, as Spurlock puts it, “People were suing the golden arches for selling them food that most of us know isn’t good for you to begin with.”
So he was about to embark on a month-long diet, consisting of nothing but McDonald’s food. Why?
He wanted to determine who was responsible for America’s exploding obesity epidemic — the people who regularly eat fast food, or the corporations that make it so cheap and easily available?
But before beginning, Spurlock needed to establish the baseline for his health. His doctors — including a GP, internist and cardiologist — agreed that his plan was probably safe in the short term.
Their tests showed that his:
cholesterol numbers were “very superb”
fasting blood sugar was “very low”
liver and kidney function were “perfect.”
fitness level was “above-average for his age group.”
In other words, he’d start the experiment in “excellent” health, with a trim 185 pounds on his 6-foot-2-inch frame.
He’d have all three daily meals at McDonald’s, eating every menu item at least once during the month. He’d only supersize when the person taking his order offered it.
So how did it go?
Just two weeks in, at an interim checkup, his internist Dr. Daryl Isaacs informed Spurlock that “If someone were doing this to their level with alcohol, they could theoretically wipe out the liver. Wipe out their liver cells. And they’d be in liver failure.”
His cholesterol had climbed 60 points, his blood pressure was skyrocketing and his liver was “now like pate.” The doctor’s overall assessment?
“You’re sick and you’re making yourself sick, and you can make yourself unsick by stopping doing what you’re doing.”
But Spurlock ignored the advice. When he completed the fast- food binge nearly 25 pounds heavier, his vegan girlfriend put him on a plant-based diet for six weeks.
And that was exactly how long it took McDonald’s to eliminate their Supersize Me option — in response to the firestorm created by his film!
I first watched Supersize Me! right after its 2004 release. I’d forgotten that it featured Diet for a New Americas’ author John Robbins and The Cheese Traps’ author Dr, Neal Barnard. Now I appreciate how much credibility they bring to the film!
Dr. Barnard explained just how addicting fast food can be: “It’s not taste and mouth feel, it’s a drug effect of the food within the brain that keeps us coming back again and again.”
When I saw the documentary back then, I had only one child. He’s now 16, and watched it along with my entire family last night. Because the kids have never been to McDonald’s, we had to explain who Ronald McDonald is.
“I think in terms of responsibility [for the obesity problem], it’s fair to point the big gun at McDonald’s… They, of course, pioneered the happy meals… So they get the kids in. And, of course, the whole clown. McDonald’s has the clown.”
I think he’d agree: Having to explain Ronald McDonald to your kids is a good thing!