August 10

Appearing in the anti Supersize Me movie.

29  comments

Yesterday MD and I spent all afternoon and into the evening being interviewed on film (on electrons, really. It was a digital camera) for a movie being put together as a counterpoint for the much ballyhooed Supersize Me.
The filmmaker is Tom Naughton, who contacted us through this blog. He arrived, and after a few pleasantries and a cold drink (non-alcoholic) he set up his stuff, and we got started. He had prepared a large number of questions (about one and three quarters pages of them, single spaced) and proceeded to work through them, while letting our answers provoke other questions. I went first, then MD. The entire affair took about five and a half hours–it will be interesting to see how much makes it into the movie.
Tom watched Supersize Me a while back and was struck by the sort of dishonesty of the whole thing. MD and I watched it for the first time the night before the filming so that we would at least know some of the specifics before we were under the questioning gun and we felt the same way that Tom did, more about which later. Tom decided to make his own version of such a movie with a little different twist: he decided to eat fast food for a month to see if he could lose weight. He ate hamburgers without the buns, didn’t drink the high-fructose-corn-syrup laden soft drinks, but had water or ice tea instead, and, in general, followed a fast-food low-carb diet. He ended having the exact opposite experience as did Morgan Spurlock (the star of Supersize Me): he lost weight and improved his lipid profile.
The message he wants to get out is that although one can be bad with disastrous health consequences at McDonald’s and other fast-food outlets, one can also be good with attendant good health consequences. It’s not that McDonald’s is inherently bad; it’s just that people usually make bad choices when they go there, but they don’t have to. I can go to my local grocery store and buy a steak and tomatoes (good) or I can go there and buy cigarettes (bad). If I choose to buy the cigarettes, it’s not the store’s fault, it’s mine. (I know, I know, the store is culpable for even having cigarettes available for purchase. But as long as it’s legal to sell cigarettes (and it is) and as long as people want to buy them (and they do), stores are going to sell them.)
When MD and I watched Supersize Me, which I recommend everyone watch, we were stunned at the lack of nutritional knowledge demonstrated by the physicians involved. Before the specifics, for those who haven’t seen the movie, I’ll synopsize. The filmmaker, Morgan Spurlock, decided to eat nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days just to see what would happen. His rule was that he had to eat everything on the menu at least once and if, when he ordered, the person behind the counter asked him if he wanted it supersized, the answer would always be ‘yes.’ He had a complete medical workup (including a rectal exam, which appeared in the movie), EKG, and lab analysis. He started out at about 185 pounds with normal EKG and lab (and rectum, one assumes). He scheduled repeat weighings and lab work weekly.
As the movie progressed Mr. Spurlock gained more and more weight and watched his blood work deteriorate. By the end of the movie he had gained 25 pounds and his triglycerides and liver enzymes had gone South on him. Throughout he visited his primary care doctor and a gastroenterologist numerous times. He had a cardiologist evaluate him to start out and look in on him at some point during the progress of his experiment.. And he had a creepy vegetarian live-in girlfriend who couldn’t believe he was risking his health by, God forbid, eating all that meat. She gave him a last meal of a bunch of vegetarian swill and welcomed him back into the world of ‘good, healthy food’ with another big meal of vegetarian swill. At the end of the movie a sort of epilogue scrolled by telling of what happened to a number of people appearing in the show and telling that it took Mr. Spurlock a full nine months to lose the 25 pounds he had gained going face down at McDonald’s for a month.
All in all the movie was kind of funny and definitely enjoyable to watch, but there was so much idiocy masquerading as truth and good sense that I don’t know where to begin.
First, the creepy vegetarian girlfriend got to me. She is so typical of people I run into all the time at various social functions. Talk to them long enough and the conversation gets around to the what-do-you-do-for-a-living stage. If I’m in the mood and I really describe what I do, these people (not everyone, just the ones like the creepy girlfriend) launch into whatever their particular brand of nutritional idiocy is and end up telling me what they believe the optimal diet is. I always want to ask them what data they base all their pontificating on, but I usually just save my breath. The girlfriend in this movie is one of those. She is so full of her self-righteous I-know-everything-about-nutrition vegetarianism that it made me want to puke. It’s no wonder the boyfriend wanted to spend a month at McDonald’s.
Second, the doctors who took part in Mr. Spurlock’s care, particularly the family practitioner that got the most airtime and, apparently, spent the most time dealing with Mr. Spurlock, certainly substantiated the notion that doctors don’t know anything about nutrition. The medical literature is full of data showing that fructose causes fatty liver disease in much the same way that alcohol does. Geese are force fed corn (the source of high-fructose corn syrup) to make them develop fatty livers that are sold as foie gras. The same thing happens to people with fructose. Consume a lot of fructose, your liver fills up with fat, and, before you know it, you’ve got abnormalities in your liver tests. This is precisely what happened to Mr. Spurlock. He kept a diary of everything he ate, and at the end of the movie the tally showed that he had consumed 30 pounds of sugar over the month. Since most of this was in the form of high-fructose corn syrup there is little wonder that he developed a fatty liver. It was not obvious, however, to his family practitioner who kept repeating “I just can’t believe a high-fat diet could do this so quickly.” It had nothing to do with the fat in the diet–it was all caused by the sugar intake. In fact, during the tally Mr. Spurlock calculated that he had eaten 12 pounds of fat during the month. Twelve pounds of fat and 30 pounds of sugar, yet his doctor called his diet a high-fat diet. Running the math on the fat gives us about 6 ounces of fat per day–I wouldn’t be surprised if I ate that much pretty regularly and I don ‘t have a fatty liver. Of course I don’t combine it with a pound of high-fructose corn syrup per day either.
Third, the fact that it took Mr. Spurlock nine months to lose his 25 pounds is a testament to how crummy the creepy girlfriend’s vegetarian diet really is. Were Mr. Spurlock to have gone on a good low-carb diet, I suspect he would have lost the weight within a month.
And, finally, I’m not so sure that Mr. Spurlock really ate what he claimed he ate or gained what he claimed to gain. According to Tom Naughton a number of people have asked to see Mr. Spurlock’s food diary that he supposedly kept so meticulously, but so far he hasn’t been forthcoming with it. Based on my experience it would be difficult for a young, healthy male to force feed himself, eating only three meals per day, enough to gain 25 pounds in a month. A number of years ago a researcher ran a study that has since become legendary trying to do this very thing. He force fed inmates in a prison in Vermont in an effort to see how quickly they would gain weight. Turned out to be not very quickly. In fact, many had difficulty in gaining much at all despite consuming huge amounts of food. In this study, a gain of ten percent of body weight was huge; Mr. Spurlock gained about 15 percent in one month.
I had my own experience as a youth in trying to gain weight. I played college football and thought I was underweight. I ate everything that wasn’t red hot or nailed down. I even forced myself to take this nauseating liquid called Weight-On that tasted like castor oil. Despite all my best efforts, I couldn’t gain a pound. Unfortunately, I ultimately got my wish to gain weight, but by that time, I didn’t want it. In fact, I wanted my weight to go the other way. Later in life weight comes on easily; early in life you have to fight for it. In my opinion it would be pretty difficult for a well-conditioned young male to gain 25 pounds in a month eating as Mr. Spurlock did. I would love to see the real data.
As to the not so subtle message of the movie, which was clearly that McDonald’s and, by extension, other fast food places are at fault for the obesity epidemic in America, I’m not sure that’s really the case. As Tom Naughton will show in his film, it’s possible to eat every day in these same restaurants and lose weight and reduce blood lipids. That being the case, it’s not the restaurants, it’s the food choices people make in the restaurants.
The New York Times had a recent article about all the fast food companies developing huge burgers and other entrees, containing 700-1000 calories each, to meet the demand of their consumers. The restaurants made these items available and they soon became huge sellers. Why? Because that’s what customers want. Virtually every fast food company developed low-fat, ‘healthy’ selections because in surveys that’s what people told them they wanted: more ‘healthy’ choices. But when it comes to voting with the bucks instead of filling out a survey, the huge burgers win by a landslide.

Restaurants say offering lumberjack portions of fat and sodium-laden food is giving customers what they want and providing them with choices. ”Some of our most successful products over the past few years have been indulgent products, whether it be the Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich, the Angus Steak Burger, the Chicken Fries product or the Stackers,” said Russ Klein, chief marketing officer at Burger King.

(An aside: I love the industry word for these products: ‘indulgent’ products. Business people have a wonderful way with euphemisms. I remember 10 or 12 years ago when we (MD and I and our entire family) made our ill-fated foray into the restaurant business and were looking for a place to lease. One of the property development guys from the main office of the franchisor came to visit and we went all over town looking. He identified one of the malls in town that we looked at as an ‘upscale’ mall. We went to visit a different mall that was the opposite of upscale, which he identified as a ‘value-oriented’ mall. That’s kind of become a family joke. Whenever we see any kind of establishment that’s down at the heels, we always refer to it as value oriented.)

[A Burger King spokesman] says he agrees obesity is a societal problem, but Burger King’s menu offers a full spectrum of choices. ”We have everything from salads to veggie burgers to grilled chicken,” he said. ”On their hamburgers, people can say ‘hold the mayo’ or they can go bun-less. Somebody who wants to be in control of their diet can do it at Burger King.”

And so it all comes back to individual choice. As Tom Naughton’s movie will show, you have it your way and lose weight or have it their way and gain.
I promise that tomorrow I will address the saturated fat study. I just had to get all this down today while it was fresh in my mind.


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  1. It’s been a while since I saw the movie, but one man sticks in my mind – the african american man who ate McD’s almost everyday and was thin…he didn’t eat the fries and didn’t drink the soda if I recall? I’m looking forward to seeing this new movie when it’s released!
    Hi Regina–
    How’s life in the Show Me state?
    It was a Caucasian man who ate all the Big Macs and didn’t gain weight. He also didn’t eat much of anything else and didn’t drink the soft drinks often.
    He sounds like the relative everyone has who drinks and smokes to excess, yet lives to be 90. Some people just have the right genes, I guess. On the other hand, he was fairly young (maybe mid-to-late 30s), so there is a lot of time for his habits to catch up to him.
    Best–
    MRE

  2. Back in February, I had a conversation with someone from the lab (remember I used to study obesity in mouse models…) who made a comment on how ‘true’ the ‘facts’ in the movie were. He even sent me a link to the movie (www.supersizeme.com). He tried to make the point that all the fat in fast food was the actual culprit… of course, according to the movie… I remember asking him if given the choice, if he would just go for plain water or the supersized ‘diet’ soda…. or a bunless burger instead of the supersized bun with a tiny little burger pattie… Like you said now, Mike, it all boils down to choices. Having said that, I’m pretty sure that people are mostly inclined to make good choices but they end up making the wrong ones because they’ve been fed the wrong information (no pun intended!). If people know what exactly is in their fast food meals, and know how certain ingredients can detrimentally affect them, they wouldn’t be so quick in supersize anything and their choices would dramatically change.
    McDonald’s takes pride in telling people to go to their nutritional website (http://www.mcdonalds.com/app_controller.nutrition.index1.html) so they can see how ‘healthy’ their food is. After I spend some time looking at the McD’s nutritional site, I replied to my friend, the one who initiated the discussion about ‘Supersize’ me:
    “Overstuffed with fat…” which seems to be the culprit according to those who watched the movie has little or nothing to do with the real problem. Think of this: if you separate each ingredient from a supersized order of hamburger and french fries (which of course includes a supersized fructose-laden soft drink -they don’t supersize your bottled water do they?-), while the amount of fat (in grams) may sound high, it is not high enough to be consider a meal “overstuffed with fat”. More interesting is that, as I said countlessly, you don’t see people walking around eating bars of butter or margarine unless those are coated with a nice layer of sugar.
    So, let’s see what’s in a traditional Big Mac meal (Big Mac, french fries and a soft drink), arguably the most famous item in McDonald’s menu, taken from McDonald’s own nutritional website:
    Big Mac?: Beef Patty, Big Mac Bun, Pasteurized Process American Cheese, Big Mac Sauce, Lettuce, Pickle Slices, Onions (Dehydrated), Grill Seasoning.
    Now let’s look closer…
    Big Mac? Bun: Enriched bleached flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, reduced iron), water, high fructose corn syrup, sesame seeds, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, yeast, contains less than 2 % of each of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, calcium silicate, wheat gluten, soy flour, baking soda, emulsifier (mono- and diglycerides, diacetyl tartaric acid esters of fatty acids, ethanol, sorbitol, polysorbate 20, potassium propionate), sodium stearoyl lactylate, dough conditioner (corn starch, ammonium chloride, ammonium sulfate, calcium peroxide, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, enzymes), calcium propionate (preservative). Contains wheat and soybean ingredients.
    Big Mac? Sauce: Soybean oil, pickles, distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, onion powder, corn syrup, spice and spice extractives, salt, xanthan gum, mustard flour, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate as preservatives, mustard bran, garlic powder, hydrolyzed (corn gluten, wheat, and soy) proteins, caramel color, extractives of paprika, turmeric, calcium disodium EDTA to protect flavor. Contains wheat, egg and soybean ingredients.
    Grill Seasoning: Salt, pepper, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (cottonseed and soybean).
    Beef Patty: 100% pure USDA inspected beef; no additives, no fillers, no extenders.
    Mayonnaise Dressing: Water, soybean oil, egg yolks, distilled vinegar, salt, modified food starch, sugar, modified tapioca starch, mustard flour, xanthan gum, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate as a preservative, lemon juice concentrate, polysorbate 80, calcium disodium EDTA to protect flavor, and beta-carotene (for color). Contains egg ingredients. Contains egg ingredients.
    Pasteurized Process American Cheese: Milk, milkfat, water, cream, sodium citrate, salt, sodium phosphate, sorbic acid (preservative), artificial color, cheese culture, acetic acid, soy lecithin, enzymes, with starch added for slice separation. Contains milk and soybean ingredients.
    Onions (Dehydrated): 100% onions.
    Pickle Slices: Cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, natural flavorings (vegetable source), polysorbate 80, turmeric (color).
    French Fries: Potatoes, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, natural flavor (beef, wheat and dairy sources), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (to preserve natural color). Breading set in vegetable oil. Cooked in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (may contain partially hydrogenated soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated corn oil and/or partially hydrogenated canola oil and/or cottonseed oil and/or sunflower oil and/or corn oil). Contains wheat and milk ingredients.
    Ketchup: Tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, natural flavors (vegetable source).
    Coca-Cola? Classic: Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sucrose, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors (vegetable source), caffeine.
    Or for the “diet conscious”, Diet Coke?: Carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, sodium saccharin, potassium benzoate (to protect taste), natural flavors (vegetable source), citric acid, caffeine, potassium citrate, aspartame, dimethylpolysiloxane.
    Except for the beef patty, onions and pickles, almost all the ingredients contain either high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), fructose, sugar (sucrose) or trans-fats (everything that says partially hydrogenated oils contains trans-fats).
    The literature linking either of these ingredients with health problems is ample, especially fructose and HFCS. In fact, there is no better way to make rats hyperlipemic than putting them on a high fructose diet, even more than putting them on a so-called “high fat” one. Soybean oil, besides being cheap is also very unstable unless is mixed with a fair amount of trans-fats and is virtually impossible to get “virgin” soybean oil for commercial purposes. So, every time those french fries (which are nothing but starch by the way) are fried in a boiling concoction of transfats, you have to think about not only the amount of “fat” that goes there but the kind of fat in which that starch is being fried. It’s not the calories from the fat that gets into the fries… it’s the poor quality of it together with the amount of starch what constitutes the problem, at least with respect to french fries.
    As the evidence is now showing, even though some people like to think it’s something new, calories per se mean nothing unless they’re taken into their context and their context is simple where those calories come from. Nutritionists and dietitians are still very fond of the concept “calorie is a calorie” when in fact is one of the most erroneous concepts ever conceived to describe the nutritional properties of food. The calorie issue is for another discussion… Suffice to say that the long table of McDonald’s USA Nutrition Facts of their popular menu items means very little unless one takes a closer look at the ingredients.
    He never saw a BigMac in the same way after that…
    (sorry this was a bit long Mike, I just had to share!)
    Hi Gabe–
    I’ve had the same arguments with many people. Thanks for your time in gathering this info; it’s really eye opening.
    People do make wrong choices because they have wrong information. As long as the mainstream nutritional establishment continue to foster the idea that fat is bad (despite the lack of evidence showing such), such misinformation will drive wrong choices. Our national obesity statistics are the result.
    Best–
    MRE

  3. Okay, there are four groups of ignorance represented by the SuperSize Me! movie. Morgan and his veggie girlfriend, the doctors involved,(and most doctors in the US) the lower classes who must stretch their budgets by eating at Mickey D’s, and the middle class audience who buy into this movie. These four groups are still not privy to or will not support the low carb information that makes it easy to alleviate the metabolic problems Spurlock created for himself.
    In other words, the ignorance that Spurlock implies is part of the obesity epidemic is larger than he thinks it is, since it includes himself and his so called experts.
    I remember being most struck when in the movie, Spurlock declares how long it took him to lose the weight. I thought there had been some esoteric factor in the McDonald’s food that compromised his health–something that he and his doctors could not account for or looked for–I did not make the connection to his girlfriend’s veggie junk diet. Now it’s obvious.
    The irony, without enumerating why the ignorance of each group exists, is that the point is made for the most vulnerable, the working classes who don’t see another way to do things. They are the ones who need new information the most, and are the least likely to get it. I do believe that this movie has a mostly middle class viewership.
    So, both Spurlock’s warning about junk food (somewhat legitimate) and the better info about low carb are very unlikely to reach those they would most help.
    I hope the producers of the movie you are involved in plan to make sure that the movie reaches the audience that needs it the most. Do they yet have any idea in what venues they will be presenting this? I was thinking primary and secondary schools in poorer neighborhoods would be ideal, since children carry back new info to their parents.
    Hi LCForevah–
    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I agree with you in all respects.
    The movie is going to be a humorous (and serious) look at how one can be good at fast food restaurants. I suspect it will go out to the same audience that Supersize Me went to.
    Best–
    MRE

  4. ….Sir et Madam it is i the scale invariant voice from within and without who periodically pops up from the ether to say that word ‘fast’
    Surely as we’re doing a Slessersize Me piece its the direction of fasting ?
    I know we we are non linear but i simply can’t hold out much longer.
    I’ve been fasting since i first asked as i was working off the rationale that as you said its good i’d do it more.
    ref veggies…i know this inside out as one for perhaps 2 years in early 90’s. I think its part due to bio-malfunctioning fuelled with rectitude.
    Haven’t seen it but that was the one thing that stood out..him taking a year on a veg diet to shed what he supp. took a month to accrue.
    Oity Doity
    Hi Simon–
    So you’ve been fasting for several weeks now since we first communicated about fasting? Based on the fact that I said it was good? Hmm…
    I probably wasn’t explicit enough. I don’t really think total fasting is good; I do, however, believe that intermittent fasting is probably good, at least based on a number of reports in the literature.
    As everyone knows lab animals live longer if they’re calorically restricted. They don’t get rat-diabetes, rat-high blood pressure, or rat-vascular disease as long as their handlers reduce their food consumption by 30-40% as compared to rats that eat as much as they want. So, if you’re a rat and you want to live longer and be healthier, then you need to cut your food to a level that is probably miserable to stick with. Those are your choices: live longer and do it accompanied with hunger or eat to your hearts content and kick off 30% earlier.
    But, there is another choice. When lab animals are allowed to eat all they want every other day, they end up eating as much as their cousins who eat ad lib everyday (they basically double up on eating days), but live as long and as free of disease as their calorically-restricted cousins. There have been a number of studies confirming this finding in rats, and there have been three that I’ve found confirming it in humans.
    We don’t know if the humans will live longer, but we know that all their indices of health improve while on an alternate day fasting regime. And we know that these subjects are not following a low-carb diet when they are on an eating day–they pretty much eat what they want.
    Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
    Best–
    MRE

  5. Dr. Mike, at first I was getting ready to be angry with you about bashing a great movie. But thankfully you have redeemed yourself in my eyes. I do think you have either missed some of the underlying story or have for the sake of your blog ignored it. What I took away from the move was less about the food and weight and the lack of nutritional intelligence (all that was painfully clear). It was more about the sheer ignorance to the problem that many people have. Even the people who feed our children at school! I was happy to see that sugar and high fructose corn syrup was included as a problem, though only glossed over. I was very impressed by the school for ‘problem’ kids that fed them a healthy diet (even by our standards), and watched as their behavioral problems went away.
    ‘Supersize Me’ isn’t a movie we should be rebelling against, we should still use it as a teaching tool, with some adjustment for the low carb lifestyle. The point is eating MacDonalds IS unhealthy, even taking out the carbs. To consider their hamburgers a ?meat? is an insult to beef everywhere! Their burgers are a mix of ‘meat,’ filler and flavoring agents to create some sort of frankenburger that will always taste the same in every restaurant around the world.
    ‘Supersize Me’ also exposes the predatory marketing practices by these huge food companies who sole purpose is to make money, not worry about nutrition. They might as well be making cigarettes.
    Finally, one can lose weight and improve their lipid profile by eating at family owned restaurants and using the same low carb technique as Tom Naughton, with out leading us to believe that fast food stores are not evil. THEY ARE! Their food doesn?t even taste good (except through chemistry). We shouldn?t be showing people you can eat low carb at crappy restaurants, we should be telling them to eat low carb, PERIOD! I always say, ‘If I don’t know who cooked it, I ain’t eating it!’
    Please tell Tom Naughton that MacDonalds is an evil corporation and should be avoided all costs. He should be making his movie about the restaurant industry as a whole, and the poisonous food chain in America.
    Thanks,
    David A. LaCivita
    Hi David–
    I agree with much that you say, and I think we would all be better off without McDonald’s (at least in its current form), but I don’t believe in regulating it out of business. One of the disadvantages of living in a free society is that entities can lure us into behaviors that are not in our best interest. In my opinion that disadvantage is more than compensated for by all the advantages of living in a free society. If we lived in a society in which the government regulated the food industry and made it comply with governmental nutritional policy (I’m not talking about cleanliness or food prep methods, which the government does regulate; I”m talking about nutritional standards) all restaurants would serve only food that was in lock step with the food pyramid. What a disaster that would be.
    In my opinion the best way to combat the pernicious influence of fast food is by education. It has worked in the case of tobacco. People still smoke, but the ranks are dropping all the time. And, even though many still smoke, I don’t think that any of them think for a minute that smoking is good for them.
    One last thing, according to the McDonald’s website the content of their beef patties is 100% beef with no fillers.
    Thanks for writing.
    MRE

  6. I’ve never seen “Supersize Me” and now I’m not sure that I want to given that the creepy vegetarian girlfriend would probably give me apoplexy…
    My hubby (who’s not LC despite my best efforts) and I still enjoy the occasional fast food burger. Here in Denver we are fortunate to have a little chain of burger stands called Good Times and they serve fabulous burgers made with Coleman beef (not the ideal grassfed beef, but still, a step up from most places.) Hubby picks up the burgers on his way home and meanwhile I prepare a large salad bowl for myself with lettuce and chopped veggies. Once I get the burger, I take the patty, tomato and onion out of the bun and chop them up and put them on the salad and dress it with some blue cheese dressing. It’s so good that I never miss the bun. I’m not a potato fan and never really did eat fries so I don’t miss them, either. Fortunately, in the past couple of years I’ve gotten hubby to lay off the fries and the sugary sodas. It really is all about what you choose to put in your mouth.
    Hi Esther–
    Right you are! Sounds like you and hubby are choosing to put the right things in your collective mouths.
    Best–
    MRE

  7. Sir was that the opus ? If so thanks.
    Nope, that wasn’t the opus. The opus will come in a much longer post describing all the specifics of all the parameters that improved with intermittent fasting. Virtually everything good improves (including BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor)) with intermittent fasting. So, one really can have one’s cake and eat it too, but only if one does so everh other day.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  8. Even if the girlfriend was not a vegan, she is still creepy.
    Gabe’s breakdown of a McDonalds meal is most interesting, it’s AMAZING what kind of crap goes into food. Recently I took my family on vacation, and we ate out a few times. My wife and I noticed that the meals served at many restaurants are not much different than what you get at any fast food burger place, and much more expensive. Same burger, white bread and fries. And if you do eat at the fast burger joint, you can order without the mayo, ketchup and such, and pray the order doesn’t get screwed up.
    BTW, on our way home we packed leftover chicken and salad and had a picnic at our halfway mark (it’s a 5 hour drive). Good food, no lines, no waiting, and no screwing up the order.
    Hi Audley–
    Yes, indeed, she was tres creepy, vegan or otherwise.
    Your picnic is the way to go. You can’t go wrong preparing your own food because you know what’s in it. I think–and have said about a thousand times on our cooking show–that the single best thing you can do for your health is to spend more time in your own kitchen.
    Best–
    MRE

  9. Hi Mike,
    That’s great about the interview. I’d like to see all of it. I hope Naughton’s movie is about more than the fact that Spurlock was wrong and probably dishonest and avoids the false dichotomy of corporate responsibility vs individual choice. The problem is that the informational environment within which people make nutritional choices is thoroughly corrupt. Should those doctors have known better? Why didn’t they?
    You’re right that the creepy girlfriend is exactly the kind of self-righteous vegetarian that is most insufferable. What makes her even more insufferable is that the movie presents this harpy as the moral center of the piece. Spurlock’s major sin is that he has contributed to the corruption of that informational environment.
    It would be interesting to discuss how that informational environment became so corrupt.
    I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the latest sat fat silliness.
    Hi Charles–
    Good to hear from you. I was tempted to post something virulently right wing just to try to flush you out to see if you were still with us.
    At last there is something we (you and I) can agree on completely. The only part of your comment I take a little issue with is the part about ‘the false dichotomy of corporate responsibility vs individual choice.’ I see the situation as a continuum with total individual choice coupled with complete corporate freedom on one end and no individual choice (without breaking the law) coupled with total corporate regulation on the other. I figure that you and I are separated as to where we stand on this continuum, but I suspect were both closer to the middle than we are to either end.
    As I wrote in the response to another comment, if we had total governmental control of corporate responsibility our only choices while dining out would be to eat in accordance with the food pyramid. I’ll gladly allow McDonald’s to exist, pernicious though it is, to keep my favorite steak and chop houses in operation.
    I’m glad we both found the girlfriend creepy.
    Best–
    MRE

  10. A couple of comments on the comments. Notably Gabes’ who apparently feels that the middle class is incredibly ignorant unlike ..hmm. the rich? Please ignorance knows no income limits. (As is evidenced by the docs in the film.)
    Secondly I applaud your endeavor to debunk this film – I wrote McDonalds and suggested that they do their own version (this was shortly after the movie came out)..but I’m sure I was round filed 🙂 .. I myself am a McD’s Queen and eat there quite frequently and at one point had lost about 70lbs. eating there. as you said choices (unfortunately I slipped back to bad habits but am back on track – and am lowcarb and gluten free).
    I also get inundated with “gasp!” all that protein.. I’m working on a comparison of what I used to eat vs what I eat now and find that I probably eat very similar amounts of protein comparatively..just so I can say helloooo! see. And what’s better is now I’m not “bloated”, having reflux or “hungry” and I eat more veggies. Very much an increase of nutrition without really an overall increase of protein since I really need less food to feel sated.
    Can’t wait to see the film. 🙂
    Hi Crystal–
    I didn’t go back and reread all the comments, but I don’t think it was Gabe who implied that the middle class was ignorant.
    I’m glad you got your brain transplant and went back to low-carb. I have to have one myself (brain transplant) every now and then, and you would think that I would know better. It feels so good to not have all the problems you described, which all go away on low-carb. It just goes to show how incredibly seductive sugar and flour are when you realize that if you eat them you (and I include myself) develop problems, but you eat them anyway because, well, they’re so seductive.
    Thanks for writing.
    MRE

  11. ..i see free will and biology rearing its head. If anyone can persuade me of a resolution of that paradox, truly then i will humbly bow to them.
    The guantlet has been tossed

  12. Did Tom Naughton tell you how much weight he lost and by how much his lipid profile improved? Or is that a secret that won’t come out until the film is released?
    Hi Deirdra–
    No, he told me. Since there has been so much interest in this subject I’m having Tom answer a bunch of questions. I’ll post it in a day or two.
    Best–
    MRE

  13. Yo, Dr. Mike
    Carve another notch in your laptop for the excellent post. (Two notches really, the previous post was also your typical brew of information and entertainment — something about seeing the word “nimrod” in print set me off in a fit of laughter.
    My two-cents says this whole supersize business is a load of crap. We’re libertarians, si? McDonaldos lays out the food and we choose. The grocery store sells cigarettes, as they are entitled to do, and we choose. Porn producers pump out porn and the horny couples at home choose. Slick Willie and Monica made their choice. (I’m not sure what brand of cigar they picked.) Titleist sells; Maxfli sells; Callaway sells; and you choose. I could put diesel in my pick-up — the nozzle fits — but I choose gasoline for my Toyota because it’s a smart choice if I want to make it more than a block or two past the corner.
    The problem is, and I forget who I’m quoting here, “People are just effing stupid.” You can only stretch the ignorance and uninformed argument so far — for God’s sake choose to be informed. Choose to tune in to Dr. Mike’s channel and then choose to hit on that nimrod Dean Ornish for his view. Study it up and make a freakin decision.
    As for moi, I’ll have a cheeseburger slathered with mounds of grilled onions, or if I can find it down here in Texas, a nice slab of Chimayo green chile. Now please excuse me while I continue my search on the internet for digitally re-mastered copies of classic movies. Let’s see, here’s “Gone With the Wind” and oohh, over there is “Debbie Does Dallas” and ….

  14. Sir any comments on this please ? It doesn’t ring true from an evol perspective but so many variables
    http://www.webmd.com/content/article/94/102611.htm
    Fanks
    Simon–
    I took a look at the article and a brief once over of the study in question ( which can be found free at: http://gut.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/53/10/1479 ) and, like you, I found them to be dubious at best.
    One of the best methods to treat UC is a low-carb diet. I’ve had a number of patients who have cooled down their disease following a low-carb diet with a little added glutamine. I’ve had no one get worse, so based on my experience I would say that the study is flawed. Plus, it used Food Frequency Questionnaires, which is the least reliable way to take a meaningful nutritional history.
    MRE

  15. Sir any comments on this please ? It doesn’t ring true from an evol perspective but so many variables
    http://www.webmd.com/content/article/94/102611.htm
    Fanks
    Simon–
    I took a look at the article and a brief once over of the study in question ( which can be found free at: http://gut.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/53/10/1479 ) and, like you, I found them to be dubious at best.
    One of the best methods to treat UC is a low-carb diet, a heavy-in-meat low-carb diet. I’ve had a number of patients who have cooled down their disease following a low-carb diet with a little added glutamine. I’ve had no one get worse, so based on my experience I would say that the study is flawed. Plus, it used Food Frequency Questionnaires, which is the least reliable way to take a meaningful nutritional history.
    MRE

  16. Dr. Mike, I would never allow the gov’t regulation of the restaurant industry, we would all be huge fatties! I say let the people regulate with their business. I would rather see this movie made by eating low carb at lots of restaurants (preferably family owned and operated), than singling out MacDonalds as a place to go for successful low carb weight loss. That’s all I wanted to say.
    Hi David–
    Tom did eat at a number of restaurants, not just McDonald’s. I’ve asked him to write up an overview of his movie and his objectives, which he has done. I will post it soon.
    Thanks for writing–
    MRE

  17. Sir many thanks.
    Wifey Wendy has/had it and for the most part we put it into remission yet seemed to have back slid somewhat.
    The only thing i can ‘see’ was that maybe there was no supplemental magnesium for a few months when i was away in the Old World as she eats exactly as i do and so it’ll be back to the glut,mag, pott, fish oil on an empty stom and a few times a day with no solid ‘fud’
    I hope this doesn’t or isn’t sycophantic but really thanks your time, altruism and decency;the latter being the highest compliment i can afford any fellow hominoid.
    Sinc.
    Hi Simon–
    I hope Wendy gets back on track soon. Thanks for the kind words.
    MRE

  18. I’ve never seen “Supersize Me,” but would love to see this new film coming out. Will it go directly to DVD or is it going to hit the big screen first?
    I have no idea. I think the plan is for it to go to the big screen.
    MRE

  19. I saw the movie only once when it was first released on cable, but I recall that one of the nutritional “experts” interviewed to comment on the McD’s diet is Neal Barnard, president of the “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine”. This group is well known as an anti-meat, egg and dairy, pro-vegan, pro-PETA animal rights group. When I saw this, I realized that there was a political agenda that pretty much eliminated the movie from having any merit for me.
    (Apparently, that the PCRM distributed DVD copies of the movie to every member of Congress after it was released, and Morgan Spurlock has appeared at PCRM functions.)
    Hi Michael–
    It was indeed that twit Neal Barnard, head of the PCRM, on the movie. I’m not at all surprised that Spurlock in involved with PCRM.
    Thanks for writing.
    MRE

  20. I am living proof that a person can lose weight while eating at McDonald’s. I have lost 134 pounds eating at McDonald’s. See my story at my blog…http://weightloss-story.blogspot.com/
    I would be interested in interviewing Tom Naughton, the director spoken of in the article…can anybody get me in contact with him?
    Hi Mark–
    Congratulations on your weight loss however you did it. I’ll pass your email address along to Tom.
    Best–
    MRE

  21. A study that tries to duplicate Super Size Me and gets somewhat surprising results.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/health/story/0,,1866485,00.html
    Hi AOE–
    Interesting write up. It’s pretty well established that it’s a lot more difficult to gain weight than it is to lose it. This study seems to bear that out.
    Best–
    MRE

  22. Seriously, you aren’t a doctor, are you? Wait, with the half-baked logic, you probably are.
    You’re right, I am a doctor.  How about you?  What is your academic pedigree?  It would be nice to know since you’re the one calling names.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  23. With a diabetic father-in-law who got himself off of insulin by following a low (and I mean *LOW*) carb diet combined with daily exercise about 8 years ago (thankfully, he stumbled upon this treatment that early, since it is only coming grudgingly to be accepted by a broader swath of the practicing medical community at this point), I have been paying close attention to how sugars and starches affect the body. At the time that I saw Supersize Me, I was about 25 pounds overweight, though I had been working out with weights and eating extra protein for about a year. The one thing of lasting value for me in that movie (aside from a new disdain for vegetarianism for health reasons alone–ethically, there are many, many other reasons to be vegetarian or vegetarian-minded, but that chick’s holier-than-thou BS needed to go, without a doubt) was that Spurlock talked about the addictive properties of sugars and simple carbs. At the time, I was eating a donut every day at 10am and another starchy, sugary something at 3pm. I couldn’t seem to resist the temptation at those times of day to get that fix. I thought of it differently after watching that movie, though. It wasn’t just weakness, but a body habituated to that reward of a quick fix, a body without a steady, reliable influx of protein. Once I thought of it as addiction, it became much easier to understand, because then you know you need an extra bit of commitment to get through that first month, but then it gets easier after that to cut them out. And like cigarettes, you can fall very quickly and easily back into that addiction, so you have to be mindful not to make it a habit. So I lost those 25 pounds in about 6 weeks after switching to high-protein snacks at those times of day and switching a couple of weight training days to cardio days. I try not to be too preachy about anything and understand that diet trends come and go, but a balanced diet has always been the key to long term success. A little less carbs and very, very few sugars or non-whole grain carbs (white bread, as you know, spikes insulin and fat production like nothing else) in that mix seems like a good solution right now, so I’m staying with it and keeping my eyes and ears open, too.
    Hi Brian–
    Sounds like you’ve stumbled onto the secret.  Keep it up.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  24. Oh, and in the post above I forgot to mention that my father-in-law who got himself off of insulin is 100% vegan. He suggests that there are problems with animal fats and proteins (meats, dairy products) that complicate or contribute to diabetes, according the research of the people who put him on that program nearly a decade ago. I have my doubts because they are also promoting veganism as part of their faith (7th Day Adventist). Any knowledge on this potential connection between animal fats/proteins and diabetes?

  25. i watch this movie and it is iscustions
    Hi megan–
    I can’t figure out the word ‘iscustions’ so I’m leaving it as written.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  26. If you go to Burger King’s website and analyze the nutrition info for a Whopper, medium fries, and a medium regular coke, you’ll see that it’s around 1200 calories. 250 of these come from the meat. All the rest comes from plants. (The egg in the mayonnaise is negligble – mayonnaise has 1 measly egg per cup!)
    I trot this fact out every time someone tries to convince me that a plant based diet is healthy.
    Brian – if you’re still watching this thread – how is it even possible that your father is doing both low-carb and vegan? Is he consuming mostly isolated soy protein? Or just not consuming any protein at all? There are very few low-carb protein foods that are not from animal sources.

  27. WOW/ that movie was really good. Except for the throwing up on the 2nd day. That was disgusting I almost trow up myself. I really liked it though……when I was really young my mom made me I mean made me eat healthy foods. And now I LOVE it. It’s really good.

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