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Comments

Evan Williams

That's just being unrealistic.

NORMAL people eat 5000 fast-food cals/day and get little to no physical activity. 2000-3000? Regular exercise? Please.

"Supersize Me" was more indicative of an everyday American's typical lifestyle. Yep.

Sandy Smith

Evan, you have a source for that?

"According to the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), total caloric intake by adults increased from 1,969 calories in 1978 to 2,200 in 1990."

Cited here:

http://www.healthstatus.com/calories_count.html

So extrapolating that to 2005 might be as much as 2,500 calories/day, or about *half* of Morgan Spurlock's diet. Given the same level of exercise (even none), you will gain far less weight at 2,500 a day than 5,000 a day. But I daresay Spurlock wanted something more dramatic than a slight increase in pudge and went for the same behavior that makes anybody fat, no matter what they're eating.

Ted Elsner

Sandy I'm pretty sure that Evan was being sarcastic. The "Yep" at the end of his post kind of gave that away.

Evan Williams

Even without the "yep", I thought that my post was sufficiently self-evidently absurd so as to not need the sarcasm disclaimer. Spurlock's 30 days of extreme living was good for a gross-out flick, but it has no bearing on normal individual. It'd be like pointing out that someone died after beer-bonging a handle of vodka, and concluding that normal alcohol consumption is therefore dangerous.

The problem with Spurlock is that he fails to really embrace the fact that he is acting the far extreme. He attacks McDonalds, but it is his very own extreme choices that are at fault.

Either way, yes, that was, in fact, sarcasm...

Saxdrop

Radley, I just wanted to comment that you've done a fine job with this site, already garnering quite a bit of praise around the blogosphere.

Kudos on the idea and follow-through. I'm still trying to figure where you find the time to put together so many posts!

The most valuable aspect of this site to me is that it conglomerates many of the skeptical/critical arguments of Spurlock's alarmism into one place.

ann arbor is overrated

It's the same linearity fallacy that plagues so much of the debate over obesity and public health. "If eating 5000 calories of McDonald's every day is extremely bad, then eating McDonald's once in a while must be somewhat bad." "I exercised and ate less and lost 20 pounds. That 400-pound man who whines about his genetic disorder could just do what I did for 10 times as long."

Tex

Sawyer is not the only person who has tried to reproduce Spurlock's spurious results. Soso Whaley has also tried the McDonald-for-a-Month diet. Like Sawyer, she kept her calorie consumption low and her exercise level high. Like Sawyer, she lost weight, thus confirming that responsibilty is personal, not corporate.

Like Spurlock, Whaley has produced a documentary of her experiment, which the Washington Times reports is due to be out this fall:

http://washingtontimes.com/business/20040704-111251-1420r.htm

Soso's daily diary is still available through the Wayback Machine:

http://web.archive.org/web/20040608212937/www.cei.org/pages/debunk/pdfs/debunktotal.pdf

Whaley's documentary is currently without a name. You can suggest one through her web page at the Competitive Enterprise Institute:

http://www.cei.org/gencon/003,04008.cfm

http://www.cei.org/pages/debunk/debunk_the_junk.cfm

Sandy Smith

Whoops. Sorry, Evan, my bad.

But you fooled me, because Americans really are getting less exercise. ;)

Tex

Like Spurlock, Chazz Weaver has also gone on the McDonalds-for-a-Month diet:

http://www.truthinfitness.org/

Like Spurlock, he has also produced an award winning documentary of his experiences:

http://www.truthinfitness.org/filmfestivals.html

Unlike Spurlock, Weaver actually got his butt in gear and burned some calories.

Unlike Spurlock, he lost 8 pounds in two weeks:

"On April 1, he began eating all his meals — four or five per day — at McDonald's. [Weaver] ate upwards of 3,000 calories per day and after two weeks had lost eight pounds (yes, lost). Since he didn't particularly want to lose weight, Weaver then increased his food intake to about 5,000 calories per day and managed to gain back about two pounds by the end of the month. His cholesterol improved, his blood pressure dropped a bit, and he says he feels just fine. How did he do it? Weaver works out at a gym daily — about an hour and fifteen minutes per day — split between aerobic exercise and resistance training. He was in good shape before he began his McDiet and remained so throughout. Anyone who wishes to do so can check the numbers for themselves at his website, www.truthinfitness.org. It’s an impressive testimonial to the importance of staying physically active"

http://www.acsh.org/healthissues/newsID.921/healthissue_detail.asp

File this one under "Other Spurlock Critics". Radley and Soso have been denounced as "corporate shills" due to their association with free market think tanks. Weaver, a personal trainer, and Sawyer, a teacher, can not be plausabily characterized this way. As the number of critics mounts, the plausibility of Spurlock's knee-jerk "corporate shill" fallacy declines.

Spurlock makes a documentary, gets major corporate backing, makes millions. Weaver makes a documentary, does not get major corporate backing, makes thousands. Corporate conspiracy? You decide.

Graham

Hasn't Suprlock claimed he made no money from "Super Size Me"? I thought I read his backers were suing him.

Tex

Spurlock claims he has made little money from a movie that cost about $65,000 to produce and has already grossed over $28 million worldwide after earning over $516,000 during it's first weekend, a claim that, although possible, is a little hard to swallow.

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=supersizeme.htm

And Box Office Mojo does not list residual returns from DVD sales eventhough the film is currently ranked at 212 on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0002OXVBO/qid=1121155077/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl74/104-1205885-3560730?v=glance&s=dvd&n=507846

Spurlock is currently the object of a $40 million law suit:

"Super Size Me director and star Morgan Spurlock is being sued for a staggering $40 million by a company which claims he's failed to share the film's profits with them, despite signing a contract promising a 25 percent share. Cast Iron Partners told the New York Supreme Court on Wednesday they gave Spurlock office space and business advice for the hit fast food documentary in 2002, in return for a share in Spurlock's company, which made the Oscar-nominated movie. But they claim Spurlock is now refusing to give them any money. Cast Iron Partners' lawyer Bill Kelly says, "We bet on this long shot and it hit and they're basically trying to keep all the money. He is engaging in self-interested and wasteful activities and diverting assets into a new company." But Spurlock insists he's seen little of the $30 million made by the movie - which sees him eating nothing but McDonald's food for a month - because distribution and other costs took a large chunk of the profits. His lawyer John Sloss adds, "I haven't had the opportunity to read it but as reported to me the claim is baseless and without merit." "

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390521/news

The contract, a balance sheet or some equivalent, and a check to Cast Iron Partners would prove the allegations wrong. The early signs are that Spurlock's contempt for commerce extends to his own written promises. If the allegations of asset diversion are correct, Spurlock is guilty of the same sort of greedy corporate double dealing that he loudly denounces. Now would be a good time for an investigative journalist to demand some financial transparency from Spurlock. 60 Minutes, are you listening?

Jon

And let's not forget Don Gorske - the high school teacher from Fond Du Lac, WI who's eaten over 20,000 Big Macs - oddly enuf, he's not obese - gee, wonder why that might be?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Gorske


jallgor

I am glad somebody replicated this "experiment." When I heard about "Supersize Me" I was immediately skeptical because we all know that it all depends on what you order not where you order. After debating the issue with some friends I was all set to take the "Supersize Me" challenge (convinced I wouldn't gain a pound if I chose not to). I am so relieved that someone has done it for me because I don't even like McDonald's.

David YO mother fucker mcgee

FUCK ME FUCK ME FUCK ME HARDER MOTHER FUCKER FUCK ME BABY OF YEA FUCK ME

lester

i'll buttfuck ya guy!

Jessica

Les didn't 'replicate' the diet. He ate fewer calories and also worked out. Morgan was trying to point out that many Americans eat upwards of 5000 calories a day, including daily meals at fast food restaurants and are also sedentary throughout the day. Though Les lost weight, this was due to the fact that he was missing fatty acids and minerals from his diet. This is indicative in a television show I'm a fan of called 'A Model Life With Petra Nemcova.' 5 out of the 6 models are criticized by a personal trainer for being 5'8" and over and between 115-129 lbs (52kg-58.5kg) with BMI's of about 18, with one girl at a BMI of 15. These girls had recorded food diaries specifically for the trainer and 3 of them, including the very underweight model, had listed their last meal as fries and/or hot dogs. The trainer gave the girls vitamins and instructed them to eat less saturated fat and more essential fats. 1 of the girls was vegan, and 2 of them were on healthy eating and exercise regimes to try and shed weight in order to fit the garments for fashion shows. None of these girls starved themselves, you saw them eat on several occasions and the editor of Marie Claire even commented to 3 of the girls that they were real girls who actually ate. So my point is, you can still be slim and metabolize bad food, but super slim people with a fast metabolic weight have trouble gaining weight as they often mistake unhealthy food as a way to gain weight and tend to counteract this if they are particularly active. Also, scientists are starting to believe that people with a fast metabolic rate who have high fat content in their diet may be at risk for fatty organs. So to me, Les didn't prove anything. He went about the program rather differently to Morgan, incorporated exercise and only proved that some people can get away with eating fast food while Morgan proved that most people can't and that they are making the wrong choices. At the beginning of the film, Morgan referred to a lawsuit filed against McDonalds on behalf of two overweight girls who ate the food regularly. McDonalds' lawyers stated that 'if plaintiffs can allege that McDonalds products' intended use is to be eaten for every meal of every day, and that McDonalds is or should be aware that eating McDonald's products for every meal of every day is unreasonably dangerous, they may be able to state a claim.' So obviously Morgan's goal was to prove that their are health risks associated with consuming excess amounts of McDonalds for only 30 days, let alone years where unhealthy people have been making these kinds of choices with their food. And we all know - and as Morgan proved in his film - that high fat, high sugar in foods, such as McDonalds, can be highly addictive. So why would anyone who was addicted to fries and supersize cokes choose the healthier options on the menu?

gregory

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Hi people great blog, very fun I am glad somebody replicated this "experiment." When I heard about "Supersize Me" I was immediately skeptical because we all know that it all depends on what you order not where you order. After debating the issue with some friends I was all set to take the "Supersize Me" challenge (convinced I wouldn't gain a pound if I chose not to). I am so relieved that someone has done it for me because I don't even like McDonald's.
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The problem with Spurlock is that he fails to really embrace the fact that he is acting the far extreme. He attacks McDonalds, but it is his very own extreme choices that are at fault.

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The trainer gave the girls vitamins and instructed them to eat less saturated fat and more essential fats.

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