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Reducing the super-size myth

By Joe Duarte     Jan 18, 2014 in Health
Des Moines - A recent high-school science experiment has shed new light on the seemingly ages-old mindset about the health dangers of consuming fast food, putting the spotlight not on what you eat but how you eat.
The premise for debate was brought to prominence by the documentary film Super Size Me, in which independent filmmaker Morgan Spurlock goes on a 30-day McDonald’s-only diet. It’s intended to show how the fast food industry values its own profits more than the nutrition of its customers.
But in light of what Colo-Nesco (Iowa) high-school science teacher John Cisna recently accomplished in his own experiment , lasting 90 days and detailed in a report from Des Moines TV station KCCI, what Super Size Me may actually highlight is how poor choices are at the root of a person’s nutritional well being.
Cisna ate three meals a day at his local McDonald’s restaurant and he reportedly didn’t skimp on the orders, eating “Big Macs (and) the quarter-pounders with cheese. I had sundaes, I had ice cream cones.”
What he did do, with the help of his students, was research a strict 2,000-calorie daily meal plan using McDonald’s nutritional information and staying close to health councils’ recommended dietary allowances.
“I can eat any food at McDonald’s I want, as long as I'm smart with the rest of the day and what I balance it out with,” he explained in KCCI’s news report.
And he exercised, walking 45 minutes per day. Cisna admits that prior to the experiment he did not exercise or eat properly so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that after his 90-day experiment, he had lost 37 pounds (about 17 kg) and lowered his cholesterol levels significantly.
Like Cisna, Spurlock had to eat three full meals daily (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and placed several other regulations on his food intake – he could only consume products sold by McDonald’s restaurants; he had to “super size” his meals but only when asked (ironically, in light of the film’s title, he was only asked nine times in the 90 times he ordered meals for consumption); he had to sample everything on the McDonald’s restaurant menu at least once; and, he tried to walk about as far as the average American at the time (a figure placed at about 5,000 average steps per day – the equivalent of over two miles or 3.3+ km), though he admittedly did not adhere to that average.
By the fifth day of his experiment, Spurlock had gained 9.5 pounds (about 4.3 kg). It is widely acknowledged that a person on a safe weight-loss regimen can easily lose three pounds every seven days. By this time, Spurlock was also reporting feeling depressed and experiencing headaches, both of which he claimed went away when he consumed his next meal from McDonald’s – suggesting addiction.
He gained about 24.5 pounds (about 11.1 kg) over the 30 days and his doctors had been urging him to stop the experiment for the previous nine days. Over the course of shooting Super Size Me, he reportedly experiencing heart palpitations, a decrease in sexual appetite, and a potential reduction in muscle mass.
Spurlock claimed the dangers to human health (for the sake of product) highlighted in the film forced McDonald’s to change some of its policies following the release of the film. McDonald’s claimed the changes were planned far before the film’s release.
As Cisna concludes, “It’s our choices that make us fat, not McDonald’s.”
More about Fast food, Mcdonald's, Super size me, Nutrition, Weight loss
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