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Zoethe

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More on Super Size Me [Jun. 8th, 2004|11:18 am]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |bitchybitchy]

Wow. Who knew that saying McDonalds food is bad for you would lead to so much controversy? A website dedicated to debunking the movie SuperSize Me has already been set up here.

The main gist of all the hand-fluttering anti-Morgan Spurlock outrage is that no American really consumes 5,000 calories a day and that he somehow cheated by having snacks in between his overly-large McDonalds meals and by eating dessert with them. And that this makes his entire message spurious and wrong-headed.

Wow. Denial.

This article in particular amused me. It focuses on such important details as the fact that his initial blood cholesterol was taken after "fasting" and this must therefore be a sign that Spurlock fasted for a lengthy period of time before the Mc-diet and was below his normal weight. A little self-education might have revealed to the author that "fasting cholesterol level" simply means you have not eaten in the last twelve hours. Didya note Spurlock scarfing down his girlfriend's veggie tart the night before the diet started, pal?

Also, the deep concern that Spurlock simply could not have mathematically gained that much fat in that amount of time. True. He dropped a lot of the weight quickly, probably due to the fact that several pounds were retained water due to the high sodium and sugar content of his diet. But retained water contributes to high blood pressure, remember? It's not good for you, either.

As far as the claims that it was his fault for giving up exercise and gorging himself so thoroughly, yes, he did do that. His point was simulating the lifestyle of the average American and demonstrating that Mc-eating is a real problem, particularly among children, who are increasingly sedentary and increasingly exposed to fast food, even in their school lunch choices.

Could Spurlock have made the movie without gaining as much weight or threatening his health quite as drastically? Certainly. Is he a TV producer known for doing outrageous stunt shows? Why, yes.

Does this mean that he has no point whatsoever? Gosh, that would only be the case if the basic statistics didn't bear out his message. Americans are fat and getting fatter, at younger and younger ages. Fast food and convenience foods are not completely to blame, but they do contribute.

Those kids in the movie were not stuffed into fat suits to make a point. The epidemic is real. Nutritionless, addictive foodstuffs are killing us. We need to make better choices.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: kibbles
2004-06-08 03:26 pm (UTC)
I don't see how he was simulating the American lifestyle.

Who eats that much fast food in a month? Even if there are those that sit on their rears all day, and he emulated that, I have never heard of anyone eating that much fast food day in, and day out. Certainly not the average American.

I do think I know what we will be having for lunch today. McDonalds. :)



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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-06-08 03:29 pm (UTC)
No, it was definitely performance art. No one eats McDonald's 3 times a day for a month. But I do know people whose kids eat sugared cereal for breakfast, junk at school for lunch, pizza for dinner, and chips throughout the evening. It's not uncommon, and it's not unlike what he portrays.
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2004-06-08 03:34 pm (UTC)
Also, even the slightest investigation will show that this site is a hard-core Republican site (there are many paeans to Ronnie Reagan on the front page), and its science is a little sketchy since it also spends its time debunking global warming.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-06-08 03:44 pm (UTC)
Yup. Business is good. Anything else is evil.

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[User Picture]From: xforge
2004-06-08 03:35 pm (UTC)
It's just like the conservatives who say Clinton's entire Presidency was a waste just because of that improper liaison in the Oval Office. Um, no, it wasn't.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-06-08 03:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, and don't forget that Clinton wasn't responsible for the good economy, Bush Senior was, and the bad economy now is Clinton's fault.
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[User Picture]From: wolflady26
2004-06-08 03:43 pm (UTC)
The guy is using shock tactics to make a valid point. If it helps people to make better choices, well and good. I just fear the effect will be that people cast themselves in the role of a victim because fast food chains are "forcing" them to be unhealthy.

Going way overboard on anything will have a negative effect. Fast food and poor food choices are only one part of the obesity problem.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-06-08 03:50 pm (UTC)
Actually, I thought the movie was unsympathetic to the plight of the fat. It didn't allow for a retreat into genetics, instead pointing out that it is what we put in our mouths that makes us fat.
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From: tessbelle
2004-06-08 03:50 pm (UTC)
Two words: Portion Control. Americans don't seem to have it in regards to food or much else for that matter. As a teacher, I see this sense of entitlement to instant gratification infiltrating even the youngest of children. McDonalds is one example. We definitely need to make ourselves examples for these kids. I'm starting to do it this summer. I've already made a pledge to myself to eat better and exercise. But I also think having McDonalds once is in a while is fine. Portion control :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-06-08 03:56 pm (UTC)
Self control and Americans have never gone together very well. They point this out in the movie, by the way, discussing Supersizing (now a thing of the past) and that the smallest portions of items are now considered kiddie size.
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From: grailquestion
2004-06-08 04:08 pm (UTC)
Everything is fine, once in a while, of course. Once a week we have a heart-attack breakfast: hash browns, eggs, lots of cheese, bacon if we have it. That's our splurge. The rest of the time we are happy with tofu, whole wheat everything, lots of spinach salads. But this is a far cry from the diet I used to eat as a kid, when the high-fat high-starch food was available EVERY DAY.

A peanut butter sandwich (white bread, no jam) and a bag of chips for lunch, washed down with sugary lemonade, followed by something made by Little Debbie. Chocolate donuts for breakfast. Pizza several days a week. Huge plates of pasta, made from refined flour. Burgers and hot dogs. Honestly, it's not too far removed from eating McDonald's every day, and this is the kind of diet kids have all across America.

I've trained myself to prefer vegetables and avoid red meat, but it hasn't been easy at all. Our bodies crave starch and fat and salt to the point that you can genuinely suffer withdrawal symptoms when you try to eat better. I haven't been to a McDonalds in years, because I don't want to tip the balance I've worked so hard to maintain. Don't tempt the recovering junkie.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-06-08 04:35 pm (UTC)
My eating habits have gone to hell recently, and it shows. Must get back on the health wagon....
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[User Picture]From: gailg
2004-06-08 04:12 pm (UTC)
Also, the deep concern that Spurlock simply could not have mathematically gained that much fat in that amount of time. True. He dropped a lot of the weight quickly, probably due to the fact that several pounds were retained water due to the high sodium and sugar content of his diet. But retained water contributes to high blood pressure, remember? It's not good for you, either.

I liked your post, but this paragraph doesn't stand up. I'm not up on my semiotics terms, but isn't there a word for changing the point of an argument rather than actually answering it? The argument was about whether the weight gain was legitimate, and you changed it to whether retained water contributed to high blood pressure. That doesn't seem like a legitimate way to respond to that argument.

Aside from that one transgression, I think your post is very well argued.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-06-08 04:27 pm (UTC)
My point was that part of his weight gain probably wasn't fat but retained water, which is still weight gain and which contributes to health problems. The detractors were trying to say that he physically could not have gained that much fat weight and therefore must be lying about his weight gain. My point was that he could easily have several pounds of retained water weight gain that would not have to be accounted for by caloric intake, and that it was equally unhealthy even if it wasn't comprised of fat. I just didn't express it fully.
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[User Picture]From: hookncrook
2004-06-08 04:19 pm (UTC)
You know I would feel sorry for McDonalds about this "Super Size" book and movie, but I also looked at a McDonalds site and article that stated that 45 percent of Americans eat one meal at McDonalds a day.

Think about the numbers that means. Think about the meals. Think about the calories consumed!

Basically, I think McDonalds is reaping what is sowed for so many years. They offer high calorie food with little nutritional value and try to claim they are helping people.

Whatever. McDonald's needs to start being more proactive about the food they serve. And I hear how they now have salads and such and cut super sizing (but only after they got wind of the movie). The salads have high calorie counts too! No help there.

I don't care if paid advocates try and come out against McDonalds. The fact that their meals add up to 5,000 calories a day and that even one meal there can be your whole daily recommended calorie count is appaling to say the least.

Now we can all go eat at Wendy's until someone ruins that for us too.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-06-08 04:29 pm (UTC)
Wendy's gets it share of mentions. Even though he eats at McDonalds, he is careful to point out that they are not alone in this.
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[User Picture]From: donkey_hokey
2004-06-08 04:32 pm (UTC)
I guess one huge problem I have with movies like this is that they seem to incorporate a victim-ish mentality thinking into the presentation (I have no choice but to pick the unhealthy crap; it's not my fault; I have no responsibility over my "choices"). I've heard rumors about a movie currently under production showing how one woman LOST weight only eating McDonald's for 30 days. It's all a matter of choice.

Admittedly, I haven't seen the movie. I get the impression, though, that the director is a Michael Moore-in-training wannabe, and that the movie is like a McDonald's meal - it seems fulfilling and satisfying at first but upon closer analysis, is really empty.
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[User Picture]From: donkey_hokey
2004-06-08 04:36 pm (UTC)
OK - here's the web address for the site about the anti-Super Size Me lady:

http://www.cei.org/pages/debunk/debunk_the_junk.cfm

From the site:

"On April 1, 2004, Soso R. Whaley embarked upon her McDonald's odyssey. Vowing to eat only the meals the fast food giant offered over the counter for 30 days, Soso set out to prove that one can maintain a healthy lifestyle and even lose weight by making wise food choices. After losing 10 pounds and lowering her cholestorol, Soso is happy to report she is doing well after her experiment."
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-06-08 04:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, SWEEEEET!!!!!!
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[User Picture]From: ldy
2004-06-08 06:49 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear! :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-06-08 10:39 pm (UTC)
I should follow your plan. Even now I am fighting a craving for something crunchy and greasy, salty/sweet. Gah.
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[User Picture]From: hawkscry
2004-06-08 08:13 pm (UTC)

Embarassing but true...

I'm going to jump in here and share my little McD's story. I used to work for a staffing agency that was extremely high stress and high pressure. If you worked the AM shift, you were expected to be in the office and have it open and ready to business by 6am. You would then get out at 2pm. The other shift was 10-6. No lunch break - if you wanted to eat you had to do it at your desk but you had to also keep answering phones, making placements and carrying on business as usual. This office was right next door to McD's. I can attest to the fact that there were many days when I was eating both breakfast, lunch and often a stress snack in the afternoon from that fine establishment. The only acceptable reason to leave the office even to catch a breath of air was to say, "I'm going next door, does anyone want anything?" In less than two years, I put on 25 pounds. Were there other factors involved? Of course. Was it my own responsibility for making bad food choices? Absolutely. But I have no doubt that McD's and other fast food restaurants have played a large part in the obesity issues in America.
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[User Picture]From: poobah103
2004-06-08 08:39 pm (UTC)
"The epidemic is real. Nutritionless, addictive foodstuffs are killing us. We need to make better choices."

I haven't had the chance to see this movie yet, but if the point of the movie is what's listed above, then I can already tell you what my reaction will be.

"Duh."

I mean, were there people out there who *didn't* know that America's growning obesity was directly related to how much fast-food and nutrionless snacks we eat every day? It seems to me, all Spurlock is doing is pointing at a bonfire and saying "Look, it's burning stuff!"

At the same time, the people who are trying to debunk what he's said are a different class of stupid altogther. It's one thing to make a movie and spend a month eating nothing but fast-food in attempt to tell Americans everywhere something they all already know, but it's another to take what everyone already knows and then try to disprove it. That's just ridiculous.
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[User Picture]From: alexmegami
2004-06-10 03:20 pm (UTC)
I think it's less him pointing at a bonfire and more like pulling up a portion of earth to show the magma just underneath.

Intellectually, we know that McDo and Wendy's and BK are bad for us... but by really dramatizing the effects it, and the rest of the American lifestyle, has on our bodies, then, well, that's another story altogether.

It's one thing to say, "oh, I don't eat very well and don't exercise... but it's genetics" and another to SEE "so with the way I eat and exercise, I (could) gain X pounds in a month?!"

but it's another to take what everyone already knows and then try to disprove it.

I disagree on a general level. In this specific case, yes, they're being silly. But if people never tried to disprove "what everyone already knows"... the words 'flat earth' come to mind.

I don't see anything wrong with trying to disprove something, but if it winds up being true... well, don't say it isn't. *shrug*
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From: cktraveler
2004-06-09 12:07 am (UTC)
This article is correct in one respect ... McDonalds is not 100% at fault, as they do have healthy food on their menu. I'd say they're more like 85% or 90% at fault.

Their salads are great, even if they put half a pig's worth of bacon bits on and give you a whole packet of dressing when one squirt is all you need. The McNuggets aren't bad even if the value meal gives you twice as many as you should have. One hamburger gives you the right amount of meat; too bad they give you two of them, smothered in pseudocheese.

I could eat nothing but McDonalds and stay fit and healthy, with enough to choose from that it'd take me a long time to get bored ... but it would take skill, and my diet would consist entirely of obscure items and special orders. All the convenience of fast food would be gone.

The average person walking into a McDonalds and picking a value meal just doesn't have a prayer.
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From: cktraveler
2004-06-09 12:58 am (UTC)
*corrects herself*

Just to make sure I wasn't making unworthy assumptions, I double-checked the suggestions I'd made here on the company's own website. There's a variant shopping cart system that lets you put together a meal, complete with limited special orders, and then get the TOTALLED nutrition information for what you've ordered.

McDonalds does not have any salad dressing that approaches healthy. Their "low-fat" dressing will send your blood pressure sky-high, and all the others will turn to cement in your arteries. No McDonalds salad is going to be good for you unless you bring your own dressing. (A McDonalds caesar salad with no chicken and Annie's Naturals Caesar is the only "McDonalds food" I would unreservedly consider healthful.)

The hamburger is high in calories but not astronomical; only its sodium count is dangerously high, and you can slash that without losing any flavor by asking for no grill seasoning and double mustard.

The McNuggets can be part of a healthy meal and the honey dipping sauce is fine. No more than five, though, or we're getting into dangerous territory with, again, sodium.

Nonetheless, in all three cases the counts come out okay based on FDA recommendations. You could eat at McDonalds that way without making your health any worse ... but it won't get any better, either.
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