Monday, December 13, 2004

Super Size Me: Every Kinesiology Student/Graduate Needs To See This Film!

When I was recapping my weekend in the last post, I forgot to mention one of the highlights in the midst of my cold-fuelled misery. On Saturday, I watched the documentary Super Size Me with my parents on Bell Express Vu. I wanted to see it this past summer, but since it was only playing down in Halifax, I decided to wait until it came out on video, so getting to see this film finally quenched my anticipation!

Super Size Me is a look into obesity in America, specifically dealing with the role that the fast food culture has played in the obesity epidemic. Morgan Spurlock, the film's director, was inspired to shoot this documentary after he heard of a lawsuit where two people had sued MacDonald's for promoting foods that they knew would make people fat, without informing customers of that possibility. The lawsuit was eventually thrown out on the grounds that it could not be conclusively proven that it was Macdonald's food that caused their "injuries".

In order to prove that the food could indeed be a vehicle for such "injuries", Mr. Spurlock set out on a 30 day MacDonald's diet where he would eat nothing but MacDonald's food. He would have to eat everything on the menu at least once, and would have to eat a Super-sized meal when asked.

Being not accustomed to fast food in Super-sized quantities, Morgan actually threw up on Day 3, having spent approximately 30-40 minutes trying to cram it into his gullet. Over the course of the 30 days, his numbers (weight, cholesterol, nutrients, etc) changed dramatically, and later in the diet, into life-threatening territory. In the end, he gained about 25 pounds, his cholesterol went from 165 to 225, and he went from being a fit, energetic man, to a winded, overweight person on the road to an early grave (his liver resembled that of an alcoholic's, according to his doctor!)

Even though 99.9% of us don't eat fast food everyday, a substantial percentage of the general population, especially in the U.S., eat out 3-5 times a week. The changes that Spurlock underwent could very well, in theory, be what will happen to these folks over a longer period of time. This movie is a warning shot over our collective bows to eat properly, limit or avoid fatty foods in our diet, and to get adequate physical activity back into our lives. As a Kinesiologist, I firmly believe that this documentary should be required viewing for every Health class in Canada and in the States.

Eating habits are often cemented in our teenage years, and any vehicle that influences those behaviours in a positive manner should be embraced whole-heartedly.


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