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"Super Size Me"

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Old 05-07-2004, 05:55 AM   #1
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There's been a lot of buzz about this movie lately since it won an award at the Sundance Film Festival. In case you've missed it:

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The Associated Press
Updated: 2:45 p.m. ET May 06, 2004

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Morgan Spurlock set out to make a movie. He ended up a crusader. And all it took was 5,000 calories a day.

To produce “Super Size Me,” his riveting and often revolting indictment of American eating habits and the fast food industry, Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s food and drink for 30 days. He says he consumed 30 pounds of sugar and 12 pounds of fat.

Monitored by three doctors, the filmmaker ate three meals a day, tried everything on the menu at least once, accepted super-size portions when offered and refused anything he couldn’t buy at the restaurant.

The result: He ballooned by 25 pounds and got sick.

A funny, scary idea
At the beginning, it sounded funny, Spurlock says. Stuffed from a Thanksgiving dinner in 2002, he saw a news report about two teenagers suing McDonald’s for allegedly causing their weight gain and health problems.

What would happen, he wondered, if he ate nothing but McDonald’s for a month?

A great film, he figured. And critics say it is: The 98-minute documentary won a best directing prize at the Sundance Film Festival and opens nationwide Friday.

With deadpan delivery, animation and graphics, and a way of making common sights like a Big Gulp container seem shocking, Spurlock is able to keep the film lighthearted even as he argues fast food may be why the number of obese Americans has doubled since 1980.

Some moments trigger both gasps and chuckles, like when a group of children studying photographs can identify Ronald McDonald — but not Jesus.

“I don’t like to be told what to do or preached to,” Spurlock says. “I wanted it to be entertaining and leave it up to you to decide what to do.”

Becoming a believer
But in discussing his film and his mission to help Americans eat better, Spurlock is intense and on message, as determined as a politician seeking office. Enthusiastic about his new-found pulpit, he tends to dominate conversation with rapid-fire, statistic-filled answers.

“When you make a movie that affects people the way this film does, you have an obligation to get the message out, to lead this dialogue and lead this discussion beyond the film,” he explains. “I’m a believer now.”

Spurlock returned to his native West Virginia last week for special screenings with health educators in Wheeling and Morgantown, and at a film festival in Charleston. At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, he’s back to the long and lean shape he was in before his experiment.

West Virginia, however, has become the nation’s second-fattest state behind Mississippi with 24.6 percent of the population considered obese. The state agency that insures public employees invited Spurlock to help bolster its multimedia portion-control campaign.

“This is a very frightening film for the food industry because it’s a film that shows that eating their food on a very heavy basis is dangerous,” says the 33-year-old from Beckley, who grew up on mom’s home cooking and whose girlfriend is a vegan chef. “A lot of Americans are on a path to being very sick.

“There’s no thought about what we’re eating and what’s going to happen to our bodies next week, next month, next year,” he says. “The last thing they want you to do is think about what you’re eating because they’re making millions by you not.”

McDonald's reacts
Since Spurlock finished his film, McDonald’s has begun eliminating super-sizing and is rolling out healthier choices. On May 11, it begins offering adult Happy Meals with salad, bottled water and pedometers.

Company spokesman Walt Riker has said the changes have nothing to do with the film, which he calls “a super-sized distortion of the quality, choice and variety available at McDonald’s.”

The film is not about McDonald’s, Riker says, but about Spurlock’s decision to act irresponsibly by eating 5,000 calories a day — “a gimmick to make a film.” U.S. health officials recommend 2,200 calories a day for most men.

Adds Cathy Kapica, McDonald’s global nutrition director: “I don’t want to judge what people consider to be entertainment, but watching him force-feed himself to the point of vomiting and getting a rectal exam is not how I prefer to spend my free time.”

Spurlock, a nonsmoker and nondrinker who works out regularly, acknowledges his diet may have been extreme but believes it’s comparable to many Americans’ eating habits.

“As much as they can say this is unrealistic, this food is rooted in the reality of how we live our lives,” he says.

Dangerous diet
At the start of his 30-day binge, doctors use words like “superb,” “perfect” and “outstanding” to describe Spurlock’s blood and cholesterol levels and his overall health. He has 11 percent body fat and is declared above average in fitness.

He stops exercising because most Americans don’t. His muscle turns to mush, and his body fat soars to 18 percent.

Before long, the doctors call his condition “obscene” and “outrageous,” comparing the liver damage that Spurlock has begun to suffer to that of an alcoholic. One cites the onset of a benign liver condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. It is usually seen in obese people.

It took Spurlock 14 months to get back to his original weight, and his liver is now normal.

“When you go to the doctor, what you eat is one of the last questions asked,” he says. “The impact of food on your body, your well being, is so immense. But there’s no money in people eating broccoli. There’s money in people eating pills.”

Spurlock will spend the summer promoting his movie, then take his message to high schools and colleges. In all, he’ll be devoting another year of his life to the cause.

“I look at my film as a snapshot of your life. This 30 days is what could happen to you in 20, 30, 40 years if you continue to eat the way most Americans eat,” he says. “You can develop all these health problems ... that can be stopped right now if you change the way you eat and start exercising.”
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4917189/
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Old 05-17-2004, 04:11 PM   #2
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I actually saw this movie recently and was amazed at how many calories this guy consumed. If I ate 5,000 cals of anything and didn't exercise I would gain weight. I wonder what would have happened had he eaten more salads and exercised?
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Old 05-17-2004, 06:58 PM   #3
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I had read about that movie!! Interesting way to prove a point! love2live I think he ate the greasy foods esps for the movie.. Most humans normally don't eat like that
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Old 05-17-2004, 10:22 PM   #4
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I'd love to see the movie, but it's currently only at 1 theater in Philadelphia, about 40 miles from the suburban multiplexes surroundings us.

From what I've seen at McDonalds, most of the people in there are eating that way, but I doubt 3 meals a day.

Not even having seen the movie, my son has sworn off fast food burgers and fries from reading the article in the paper. Yipee!

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Old 05-17-2004, 10:36 PM   #5
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It sounds just too discusting for words... I cannot imagine eating that much McD's food, I'd be sick in less than a week...I should take my kids to see the movie tho. But it hasn't even come close to this town...
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Old 05-18-2004, 08:44 AM   #6
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Great Rant Jack!!
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Old 05-18-2004, 09:48 AM   #7
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Great rant, Jack. And one that we've ranted about here several times before. Unfortunately, there's a huge divide between corporate and personal responsibility. Corporate responsibility is to bring the maximum profits to an entity's shareholders. Hence the cover-ups at the tobacco companies, the crap in our supermarkets and schools, the alcohol ads targeted an underage wannabe-cools. And on and on. Personal responsibility works fine for rational adults or young children; as a parent, you have more or less total control for a while, but certainly by the time a kid is 12 or so, they can manage to get around just about any parental controls if they try. Even if they've been "indoctrinated" since birth. And they don't have to try very hard, as you've pointed out.

In terms of what's in our schools, I think there has to be a level of social control. The schools here, while wealthy compared to the rest of the state, are 100% dependent on property taxes and taxpayer whims for their funding. Which opens a barn-sized door for corporations such as Pepsi, Coke, and the fast food companies that now stock our cafeterias. "Give us access to your kids and we'll give you computers!" or a new football stadium and track, or band uniforms....All irresistable to school boards that know they'll be voted out if they increase the school taxes. What's the solution? I don't know, because if PA ever went to state-based school funding or the equalizing controls in place in NJ, my local schools would suffer.

As a parent, all I can do is attempt to teach my children, write letters to the school board, and vote. Everyday I pack a healthy lunch for my son- and I'm sure that every day he trades some portion of it for junk, or goes and buys a slushie to go along with it. He hates exercise, but is currently blessed with his father's genetics and the metabolism of a 13 yr old who grows an inch a month. With my daughter, it worked. She's a D1 collegiate athlete who instantly sees the effect of what she puts in her body on her performance. So in the end, I guess there's only education and hope. I don't really see much hope for coporate responsibility.

End of ramble.
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Old 05-18-2004, 01:42 PM   #8
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Here in California, several school districts - including the San Francisco Unified School District - have taken steps towards healthier choices for kids, food-wise. They've stopped accepting funding from fast-food and soda pop companies, and cleaned up their cafeterias.

But it's a challenge...

Quote:
Improving campus diets

Tuesday, March 9, 2004
©2004 San Francisco Chronicle


URL: sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/03/09/EDGHR5FHMR1.DTL


THE HOUSE of Representatives is expected to vote this week to bar consumers from suing fast-food outlets for contributing to obesity. But local school districts face a much more direct challenge: How to teach children the benefits of eating healthier foods.

Several of the nation's largest school districts have begun to provide more nutritious offerings. While these steps won't eliminate the nation's growing health problem of obesity, they do provide a starting point to educate young people about the hazards of excessive sugar and fat in their diet. Taking the lead is the San Francisco Unified School District, which in January introduced the most sweeping healthy foods program in the nation.

Unfortunately, this new school policy is being threatened by the presence of catering trucks, which park directly in front of some schools, allowing students to buy food items no longer available on campus.

San Francisco Supervisor Sophie Maxwell has asked the city attorney to draw up legislation that would keep these catering trucks away from school grounds. Running off catering trucks won't solve the obesity crisis. But our schools' efforts to improve children's diets should not be undercut by a handful of entrepreneurs taking advantage of the districts' healthier food policies.
I agree that we must start with the younger generation - our kids - to quell this obesity epidemic. Ya know, when I was a chubby schoolgirl, I was one of the biggest girls in class (and was teased and taunted accordingly). Judging from the kids I see today, I would most likely not be given a second glance by the bullies...
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Old 05-18-2004, 02:35 PM   #9
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What is so bizarre about the food program at my kids school is that if my kids buy the school lunch - which is actually kind of healthy - they are still hungry when they leave the table because the portions are way too small. The school sells chips, sodas, candy, etc. to supplement the lunch, which of course defeats the purpose of the contract with the supplier to provide healthier meals. My kids opt to take their own lunch instead, not for health reasons, but just so they won't starve.

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Old 05-18-2004, 03:17 PM   #10
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Tik, just for discussion sake, do you think it's because kids, not just yours but kids in general, are so used to getting "supersized" everything that once they get a regular portion they are not full?
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Old 05-20-2004, 05:57 PM   #11
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the difference is also activity-how often are our kids exercising-that is one thing that makes it easier for me to indulge now and then. I think it's definitely important that we as adults are setting good examples for our loved ones too, if we're not than why should they?
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Old 05-20-2004, 10:37 PM   #12
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Hi Love2live! I agree as parents we must lead by example! But I used to bike, walk, swim, whatever, with my kids and now that they are teens... I can barely get them off the damn couch to mow the lawn or do the dishes!! .... I'm just hoping that when they reach 18 or so, that's when the ding-ding bell of health went off in my head, that they will see what I do and ask how to do it or join me to workout...

Tiki - I think I sort of answered my own question about kids and supersizing... When a cafeteria, they ones that I know of in the schools anyways, put out healthy foods such as salads I personaly find that the portion of a salad would barely fill my molar, let alone a young stomach for the rest of the afternoon, they also skimp on the protein... Maybe that's why kids opt for supersizing and junk because it's at least filling for the moment... Just a thought anyways....
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Old 05-21-2004, 06:28 PM   #13
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I can barely get them off the damn couch to mow the lawn or do the dishes!!

LOL-Lanaii! Totally agree!

Question though, do you think as parents and as a society we've become too giving to the "me, me, me's" of the teenage and kid realm. I mean, come on-when I was raised in a house where if I didn't eat what we were having for dinner my parents would say "well than, you will go hungry" or you can make yourself a PBJ. I think many of the habits we had when we were younger, splurging now and then-have become a daily ritual.

Definitely lots to think about-but I think you're doing a great job-and if we're teaching them about different nutritional options-I think that helps them in the long run a ton.
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Old 05-21-2004, 10:55 PM   #14
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Inspite of it all I agree with that Jack
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Old 05-26-2004, 02:37 PM   #15
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I must say that I do too
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