Sunday, April 12, 2009

As an honorary American, an almost-teenager, and a resident of Oklahoma, one of the fattest states in the US, I really should have seen Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock's documentary about the horrors of McDonalds' nutrition and marketing, long ago. Instead, I saw it just this weekend, and I'm not sure what I'd rather do - stop eating food altogether, or never step into a fast food restaurant again. Which would be easier? Everywhere you go, in a car, on public transportation, in a plane, to another country - there are McDonalds everywhere. But rather than try to focus on the bad stuff you get to eat at McDonalds, it's so much more salient to see what the bad stuff you get on your body is. Morgan Spurlock was a man with above-average health; 34 years old, 6'2", 185 pounds. After 30 days of eating nothing but McDonalds, he weighed 210 pounds. His cholesterol had increased by 60 points, his body fat percentage shot up from 11% to 18%, and he experienced heart palpitations, shortness of breath, mood swings, headaches, sluggishness, depression, and sexual dysfunction. All this, just from a month of food. All this to a man who had a healthy diet, body, and lifestyle.

You may say, that's not really a problem. Look around Cornell, there aren't really many obese people around here. And yes that's true, partially because we are in New York, which is certainly not a "fat" state, and partially because we are at an Ivy-League school, where the students and faculty tend to be more affluent, better educated, and less likely to be raised on junk food. But this is a national epidemic. And that is not too strong a word. I can personally relate to this problem when I go home for breaks, and see the drive-through lines to McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Arby's, Taco Bell, KFC, and the dozen more local fast food chains packed with cars. And, worst of all, everything is marketed to kids! In high school, I remember the great glee everyone had when it was "Taco Bell day" or "Pizza Hut day" in the cafeteria. How, in good conscience, can a company market such poison to children? Overall, it is not the conscience of the companies that need to be changed, it is the personal knowledge and choices made by everyone. But seriously, watch this film if you haven't already. All you need is a shot of Morgan Spurlock puking and unable to have sex after his second burger. It's enough to make you go eat a laaaarge salad.

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