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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarianism in the News

June 1, 2004 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Super Size Me Filmmaker
Almost Eats Himself to Death
In 30-Day McDonald's Binge

Eat yourself to death? Morgan Spurlock almost accomplished that dubious goal in his 30-day experiment eating all of his meals at McDonald's and avoiding exercise. In his documentary Super Size Me, Spurlock reveals how his McDonald's diet caused the destruction of his health with physicians warning him to stop before he completed the scheduled experiment.

Spurlock, author-director-star of the film, began his month-long odyssey by consulting with three physicians and a nutritionist who would monitor his health throughout. Initial blood tests revealed a healthy person with low cholesterol, normal triglycerides, and a body mass index in the normal range.

Three weeks into the experiment his doctors were warning him to stop because he was damaging his health. What was surprising to us was that the doctors themselves expressed amazement that this type of eating could be so destructive to a person's health. By the time he had concluded his eating binge, Spurlock had gained 24 1/2 lbs., his cholesterol and triglycerides had soared to dangerous levels, and his liver was "toxic." One of the doctors described it as "liver pate." He was also plagued by headaches and suffered depression.

Super Size Me As a filmmaker Spurlock utilizes techniques similar to those employed by Michael Moore in films like Bowling for Columbine. Spurlock is on camera in many of the scenes with his humor preventing the film from becoming a dry exposé piece. One animated scene shows chickens going into a grinder and coming out as McNuggets.

Two Big Macs a day for 30 years
In another scene he interviews Don Gorske, a Guinness Record holder who has eaten two Big Macs every day for 30 years. Gorske estimates he has eaten approximately 19,000 during his life. The high point of his thirty years was the day he consumed the grand total of nine Big Macs. Still another scene shows young people who can recite the exact words of McDonald's jingle but can't remember the Pledge of Allegiance. In another segment young children can recognize a photograph of Ronald McDonald but could not identify the pictures of George Bush or Jesus Christ.

Interviews and his attempts at obtaining interviews are key aspects of the film. Spurlock repeatedly tries to speak to McDonald's CEO Jim Cantalupo, but is unsuccessful. He'll never achieve that goal because Cantaloupo died of a massive heart attack in April at the age of 60. Spurlock is more successful in questioning prominent figures like David Satcher, former surgeon general, and Marion Nestle, nutrition professor at New York University.

Two other figures interviewed are quite prominent in the vegetarian community. John Robbins talks about his father and uncle who founded Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors. Robbins describes how their ice-cream laden diets led to poor health and even the early death of his uncle. Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and author of Breaking the Food Seduction, reveals scientific evidence to show that people can become addicted to meat, cheese, and sugarčall in abundance in a McDonald's meal.

Throughout this "mockumentary" Spurlock focuses on many obese bodies, even though the faces accompanying the bodies are blurred. Ironically, he shows the faces of the McDonald's employees who prepare and serve the food. Most of those employees were obese.

Vegan chef says,"Stop!"
Watching aghast at her boyfriend's film project, vegan chef Alex tries to persuade him to drop his 30-day food binge, but without success. She does have a vegan detox diet waiting for him on day 31. Alex does admit that her boyfriend's McDonald regimen had a pronounced negative effect on his sexual performance.

A prominent focus of the film is the increasing size of food portions in recent years. Instead of a six or ten-ounce soft drink, for slightly more money, a patron can choose a giant drink up to 52 oz. Portions of French fries have exploded in size, while cheeseburgers and other sandwiches carry huge quantities of fat and cholesterol. By eating all three meals at McDonald's, Spurlock was averaging over 5000 calories daily, more than twice what health experts would recommend for a healthy adult male.

Spurlock spotlights the efforts the fast food industry has made to attract and addict young people to their products. McDonald's is constantly pushing its Happy Meals. Schools have allowed fast food companies on campus to sell their soft drinks and sandwiches. In contrast he also reveals how some districts like Los Angeles have recently banished soft drinks from their schools.

In Super Size Me Morgan Spurlock indicts the fast food industry for its role in making the global population blimpier than ever. He recognizes that McDonald's should not receive the sole blame for the fattening of America but feels McDonald's is the icon for the industry, the leader other fast food companies follow.

Financed with $65,000 of his own money, the film is funny and informative but with a powerful message. What could have been a sermon, has become a very entertaining cinematic experience that graphically reveals how Americans are eating themselves to death. By consuming supersize portions, Americans are supersizing themselves and destroying their health in the process.

Although this unrated documentary could never receive a G rating because of gross scenes showing Spurlock's rectal examination and his vomiting after one McDonald's meal, all young people should see it. With their high-fat, sugar-laden, massive animal protein diets and their sedentary lifestyle, young people are gradually accomplishing the same unhealthy results that Spurlock achieved in his one-month eating adventure. But why stop with young people? Every American should see this film so that we can all join together to say "no" to the spreading influence of fast food.

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