Friday, April 21, 2006

McDonald's Supersized Profits

I just read that McDonald's is doing better than ever--good for them (Hat Tip: Instapundit). The supersized profits occurred despite Morgan Spurlock's negative documentary, Super Size Me, detailing how bad McDonald's is for your health. In the documentary, Spurlock eats McDonald's for three meals a day and often supersizes everything. Spurlock finds that his health suffers--well, duh. Ever heard of too much of a good thing? Of course, the real message of the documentary seems to be that corporations are bad and telling people what to eat is good.

I often think of making a rather different documentary than Spurlock's. This one would entail my eating about ten cakes of Tofu for each meal; after all, eating lots of tofu leads to "accelerated brain aging," one study says. Or I could eat gallons of raw bean sprouts every day and then describe the horrible effects on my health. Even Dr. Andrew Weil, the health food guy, is against eating raw sprouts due to toxins. Heck, why not pick on Panera Bread (which seems to seduce so many organic yuppie types to it's doors) instead of McDonald's-- take a look at the fat and calories in their chicken sandwich--Hint--it makes a Big Mac look like a veggie burger in terms of calories. Or how about the Turkey Artichoke Panini? Sounds healthy until you see it has 840 calories and 37 grams of fat--much more than a Big Mac (540 calories and 30 grams of fat).

Anyway, you get the idea. If you want to take care of your health, it is up to you to evaluate your choices--whether it be McDonald's for a healthy salad or Panera for one that has three times the fat. Me -- I eat better at home.


Blogger Mercurior said...

thats the one thing about that film that annoyed me, anything eaten 3 times a day for 30 days, will be bad for you, as you said.

but there is the idea that all fat people must eat mcdonalds every day, for breakfast lunch and dinner. its another way of turning normally healthy people into scarred psyche anorexics.

i can remember when i had a mcdonald, that was, 7 months ago. just 1.

3:22 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The flaw in your proposed case is that Spurlock ate the full variety of McDonalds' offerings. So you would have to alternate tofu, bean sprouts, Panera bread, Turkey Artichoke Panini, and many others to parallel his efforts.

A better case could be made for eating the full variety of Panera offerings.

3:32 PM, April 21, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 3:32:

Spurlock had to supersize it whenever they asked him which was very frequent. So the equivelent would be to supersize the Panera bread offerings--I shudder to think what that would do to the calorie count.

3:50 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Things that can't be duplicated anywhere you go:

1. McDonald's french fries when they're fresh from the fryer.

2. Fountain Coca-Cola from McDonald's. It has a slight tingly burn when it hits the back of your throat.

3:57 PM, April 21, 2006  
Blogger Mercurior said...

the problem with salad is, it may have organophosphates on it, or new viruses, (or is that virii).. anything. even salad taken to extremes, will be dangerous, theres toxins in fresh vegetables that are deadly at high doses.

so.. as my sainted granny used to say a little be of what you fancy does you good.

4:10 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

McDonlad's offers one thing that is especially important if you are 1) traveling 2) with kids - it is absolutley uniform, geneirc and predictable. And that is invaluable.

Anything in excess is bad. That simple. Spinach has enough oxalic acid to make you sick if you eat too much, and it doesn't take that much.

Back in hnter-gatherer days people used to eat up on things when they came into season, and then go without till the next time. That works for me still, but then, asparagus happens to be in season now.

4:35 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen, my apologies for going off topic. But I am aware of your health issues and your corresponding knowledge. My father just had a quintuple bypass. It was unexpected to say the least. My parents are trying to educate themselves on the health issues involved. Any suggested websites or articles? Thank you, Dave

5:21 PM, April 21, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Hi, I am very sorry to hear about your father--many people I know do quite well after a quintuple bypasss--my father in law had the surgery 12 years ago and is doing better than anyone in the family!

Have a listen to the Glenn and Helen Podcast on Cardiology at:

Also--take a look at Dr. Wes's (cardiologist) site at

It is informative and if you ask a question, he will generally answer.

5:27 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mc Donald's in the UK tastes much better than in the US. The US McDonald's tastes more plasticy, whilst the UK one tastes more like real food. In the UK one, you can taste some spices, too. Same goes for Burger King.

5:43 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny movie title. The adult hypochondriac horror flick genre does have its dangers as well. NPR did one on selenium as a cancer preventative agent but neglected to mention that supplemetal selenium can cause kidney damage. You know, medically he presented 2 cases, himself and the guy who virually only ate McDonalds, ate big macs, (?)lost 10 pounds over 2 years and had a cholesterol of 140.

7:05 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen - Spurlock is nothing but a Michael Moore wanna-be. Did you see the TV Series he had on , maybe the FX Channel? It was going to be an investigative type of show, in the Supersize Me sort of way. he had a white guy come to Dearborn, Mi, and try to live there with a muslim family. Turned out to be a completely, shallow, stupid "documentary", where they got facts wrong, and tried to make it a anti-war statement. Well, I think that after a couple of episodes, that show was canned.
Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say!!

2:01 AM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've made Glenn's Insta-chicken a number of times and it is a big hit in our house -- easy and sooooo good!

9:01 AM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spurlock is not a Michael Moore. During his promotion of the movie he even spoke about how delicious Big Macs are and that he likes McDonalds. And how there is nothing wrong with eating fast food on occasion.

I think the point of his movie was just to call to attention the nutritional deficits and obesity risks in a diet rich in fast food. And many Americans do eat fast food daily. And correct me if I'm wrong Dr. Helen, but I don't think Panera ever asked each and every customer after every order if they'd like to "supersize".

The point of his movie may seem obvious to the many who do not have junk food/fast food addictions. But many parents and children eat fast food and junk food as a base of their diet. As a teacher I've seen how common this is, even with other teachers (our bottoms do get wider and wider each year for a reason, and it's not the low pay). Dr. Helen, strangely enough I haven't met anyone who eats a tub of tofu ten times a week, although I regularly see teachers eat fast food ten times a week.

And I can't imagine Spurlock would really care that McDonald's is doing so well - unless the increase in profits is due to the same customers coming more and more and thus at risk for what Spurlock endured!


10:00 AM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


My "beef" with Supersize me is that Spuluck's remedy to being fat in America is to blame a corporation such as McDonald's--just more tired PC propaganda. I agree with James Glassman who wrote this in his review:

"But "Super Size Me" is not a serious look at a real health problem. It is, instead, an outrageously dishonest and dangerous piece of self-promotion. Through his antics, Spurlock sends precisely the wrong message. He absolves us of responsibility for our own fitness. We aren't to blame for being fat; big corporations are! And the remedy, he suggests, is to file lawsuits and plead with the Nanny State and the Food Police for protection.

While the film demonizes McDonald's and other restaurants, Spurlock's weight gain and health decline have nothing to do with where he ate (after all, Robert DeNiro gained 60 pounds for his role in "Raging Bull" by dining at great restaurants in Italy), but rather with how much he consumed and how little he exercised (Spurlock even cut down on normal walking)."

You are mistaken if you think it is just about obesity in America--it is much more complex than that--though the message of the Nanny State and blaming corporations is more subtle.

10:21 AM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen,

Gaining weight on a highly nutritious Italian diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, fresh pastas and sauces, fresh meats, poultry, fish and olive oil- as Robert De Niro did - is not quite the same as gaining weigth through dining at McDonald's. Of course the nutritional value at Micky D's is much much lower.

Have you seen "Super Size Me"? I saw it about a year ago and liked it, as the performance art/documentary film that it was. I am against the over regualation of the food industry, but if Spurlock's movie in any way caused the collapse of the supersizing at McDonald's (it appears that there was some influence) I'm very happy about that. If less teacher and children that I work with get supersized daily, that would be a good thing for all of us!

And you speak about personal accountability and choice in regard to the foods we eat - I think Spurlock is trying to encourage better choices. However, for the kids I work with who are attending schools with junk food lunches and the only lunch/snack items around are McDonalds, there's not a lot of good choices to make. Same with the many hard working adults who work long hours, come home exhuasted and grab some fast food because they are too tired to cook. There aren't any health food stores/snack bars where I live - fast food is the choice that's available for many of us. In France or Italy, the choice would be healthier and healthy choices would be easier to find.

I'm certainly all for choices and more choices. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't McDonald's offering healthier choices since Spurlock's movie? Sounds like his movie had some good influence IMO!

1:44 PM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Healthier menu choices - seems like Micky D's is listening.

1:49 PM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 1:44:

Yes, healthy choices I agree with--just not mandating them or making it a "moral choice" that somehow eating better means that one is "better" in some way. One of the problems I have with schools is that some of them will not allow "fast food" of any kind---not even Subway but offer the crummy school lunch which is swimming in oil etc. so choices are good. But I would definitely prefer my child eat Subway than the school lunch. Maybe it would be good to advocate for healthier choices for school lunches since kids have no choice but to be at school and let those parents and their kids who wish to eat at McDonalds by choice make the decision to do so.

2:30 PM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that too much of anything is bad for you. However, as a long-time fan of eating at McDonalds, I would like to point out one fact. Very few McD eaters order JUST a sandwich. This fact tends to get lost in the cross-restaurant comparisons.

A more accurate comparison is to look at a typical McDonald's meal vs. a typical Panera meal, which in my case is just the sandwich. The net calories / fat are less at Panera, even with a fattier sandwich.

7:56 PM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen, Thank you, Dave

9:39 PM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I absolutely agree with what you wrote about school lunches, and yes, Subway would certainly be better than the strange nuggets and greyish burgers they are serving them now.

I also like the idea of this:

A garden in the school where students eat the vegetables they grow!

9:11 AM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 9:11:

Yes, the veggie garden sounds great--it might also get the kids outdoors for a while during the school day which sounds preferable to sitting still for eight or so hours.

9:26 AM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger Pablo said...

Spurlock has proved only one thing: Gluttony and sloth are not good for you, especially if you're already a nancy boy with a crepe-paper constitution. Rebuttal films include Me and Mickey D. in which the protagonist lost 18 pounds while eating nothing but McDonald's and Down Size Me in which the bodybuilder star lost 8 pounds doing the same.

9:37 AM, April 23, 2006  
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