Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Super Size Me" Revisited

I am a fan of McDonald's. That's a tenuous statement to make in today's health-crazed America, but there's something compelling about free-market capitalism and food. The stock has certainly rewarded shareholders, up 30% in the last year and 125% in the last five. One thing people don't seem to know is that McDonald's has been made-to-order for a decade. That's right, no more heat lamps. But that's not what this post is about.

In his famous 2004 documentary, Super Size Me, director and star Morgan Spurlock ate only McDonald's for 30 days. He ate McDonald's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Super Sized his meals when offered the option by the cashier. The result? Spurlock gained 25 pounds and experienced serious health degradation; it took him 14 months to lose the weight. The consequence? McDonald's eliminated the Super Size option and introduced legitimately healthy menu items.

But McDonald's is not to blame for the outcome of Super Size Me -- Spurlock consumed about 5,000 calories per day and didn't exercise which, regardless of what you're eating, will noticeably damage your health. In fact, independent film producer Soso Whaley managed to lose weight eating only McDonald's over 60 and 90 day periods because she adhered to a reduced-calorie diet and exercised.

So what does this all mean? It means that McDonald's, like anything you eat, is fine in moderation. Personally, I eat at McDonald's a couple times a month, always on the go, usually just ordering a small chicken sandwich and hamburger. Last night, however, I decided to see what would happen if I bought the McDonald's dollar equivalent of a cheap meal: fish nuggets, two chicken sandwiches, and two hamburgers. The monetary total was only $6.42 including tax, but the calorie count was more expensive, coming in around 1,600 calories. Everything tasted fine, but the sheer quantity of food was difficult to finish. The real concern was that, after passing out a couple hours after, I was woken up at 5:30am by a toilet run. If you didn't know better, you might have thought I was visiting the rainforest.

My point is that if a regular patron of McDonald's can have such a strong digestive reaction to the same food he always orders simply because it's a double serving, McDonald's still has a long way to go to improve their food. Until then, I think I'll stick to the stock and my usual small order every couple weeks.

1 comment: