McCraving

Did Morgan Spurlock's documentary Super Size Me have the opposite intended effect? After all, for some reason, I did feel like grabbing a cheeseburger and fries after watching the film. :wink:

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You should grab it and eat

You should grab it and eat it. It's healthy to be overweight.

That's exactly what happened

That's exactly what happened to me, too. While my hippie/foodie friends continued watching the rest of it, I drove straight to McDonald's.

The whole premise of that film perturbs me: "Here's what happens when you consume this company's product in excess. That company must be evil!"

It frustrates me how reflexively some people turn to public outrage over private responsibility.

BTW, there was a fast-food

BTW, there was a fast-food industry funded experiment (not a movie) where someone *lost* weight on an all-fast food diet. Of course, they ate less and exercised more. It's not just the food.

(Although admittedly, the food is somewhat bad for you. But, like drugs, its how you use it. And the part of fast-food which is bad for you no matter how you use it (the trans fats) kill you slowly, they don't make you fat).

Daniel, I agree with you

Daniel,

I agree with you about the public outrage over private responsibility claim. If people want to eat crummy food and get fat, then they should be permitted to do so. And the food is tasty if you're into the whole grease and sugar thing; I take my son there once in a while when I'm too tired to cook after work.

That said, I think that Spurlock's point is that McDonald's said its food is healthy. If that were the case, then eating it 3 times a day shouldn't have any bad effects. Now why anyone would have _believed_ McDonalds' food to be healthy before seeing _Super Size Me_ is pretty much beyond me.

We do avoid the fries, though. Did you watch the extras with the french fry experiment? _That_ was disgusting.

_BTW, there was a fast-food

_BTW, there was a fast-food industry funded experiment (not a movie) where someone lost weight on an all-fast food diet. Of course, they ate less and exercised more. It’s not just the food._

You can eat anything and lose weight provided only that you burn more calories than you take in. I'm sure that endurance runners could eat fast food three times a day and stay skinny with no problem. That doesn't seem to show all that much.

You can eat anything and

You can eat anything and lose weight provided only that you burn more calories than you take in. I’m sure that endurance runners could eat fast food three times a day and stay skinny with no problem.

That's pretty much right, and that includes McDonalds food. Yet your comment to Daniel suggests you believe McDonald's food has intrinsic bad effects on health:

[Joe]

That said, I think that Spurlock’s point is that McDonald’s said its food is healthy. If that were the case, then eating it 3 times a day shouldn’t have any bad effects. Now why anyone would have believed McDonalds’ food to be healthy before seeing Super Size Me is pretty much beyond me.

[/Joe]

There's nothing

There's nothing intrinsically unhealthy about McDonald's food. It has more fat than some stuff, but fat isn't intrinsically unhealthy, you need fat to live.

RKN and Half Sigma, I

RKN and Half Sigma,

I disagree that McDonald's food isn't intrinsically unhealthy. While it's true that one won't necessarily get fat eating only at McDonald's, it's simply not true that one will be healthy as a result. Gaining weight is related, mostly, to calorie intake. I could go on a chocolate cake diet and lose weight if I can manage to burn off more calories that I consume.

That said, the chocolate cake diet is unlikely to be healthy, since there are all sorts of nutrients that bodies typically require that aren't found in chocolate cake. Ditto for McDonald's. It provides calories (mostly from carbohydrates), protein and fat (lots of it). But it offers little in the way of anything else. And all of that fat and the simple carbohydrates can have other deleterious effects. Skinny people can still have high cholesterol, and a diet that is consistently too high in simple carbs can lead to diabetes.

Eating at McDonald's every once in a while isn't all that bad for you. But that's not inconsistent with saying that it's not really very good for you.

That said, the chocolate

That said, the chocolate cake diet is unlikely to be healthy, since there are all sorts of nutrients that bodies typically require that aren’t found in chocolate cake. Ditto for McDonald’s. It provides calories (mostly from carbohydrates), protein and fat (lots of it).

  Can you name a food whose calories don't come from either carbohydrate, protein, or fat? I can't.

And all of that fat and the simple carbohydrates can have other deleterious effects.

  But that depends on the lifestyle of the person. Calories are calories. There are different metabolic pathways by which protein, fat, and glucose (carbohydrate) are turned into fuel, but they're all quite efficient. (Curiously, fat breakdown is the most efficient by far).

  So I'm still not understanding why McDonald's food is *intrisically* unhealthy. If you have other risk factors, yes, I'd counsel one not eat a high fat diet, but otherwise?

  Note: other things commonly found with/on a burger -- tomatoes are a good source of VitC, cheese has protein and Vit B12, add onions and pickles and I'm pretty sure you get Vit E&A (don't hold me to that one), potatoes (fries) are a good source of Vit B6, etc...

Skinny people can still have high cholesterol, and a diet that is consistently too high in simple carbs can lead to diabetes.

  In many instances these conditions are inherited, and their symptoms exacerbated by a high fat diet, but that doesn't mean all foods that do so are *intrinsically* unhealthy. It's very obviously subjective.

True, Joe. But although

True, Joe. But although it's certainly not "health food", I think it's unfair to call McDonald's food "unhealthy". I don't think the standard for healthy food should be if it can be eaten three times a day, every day. Green salads are considered "healthy food", but it would be unwise to limit all your meals to them. I can just imagine a crusading documentarian exposing the evils of the salad industry by subjecting himself to protein deficiency. One could say, "It's unhealthy in excess," but that would be a tautology.

I must admit, you've

I must admit, you've convinced me Joe. I've always thought usefulness and usage should dictate definitions. And in this case both steer "unhealthy" toward what you describe. I think I'm just eager to find any way I can to deprive hippie/foodies of something to whine about.

This is exactly my concern

This is exactly my concern though. Surely the distinction between ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ food is a useful one to have.

In the context of talking about an individual's overall lifestyle, yes.

I've already conceded a high fat diet (say) could *exacerbate* an unhealthy lifestyle. But it's misleading to say, out of any context, that MCD's food is intrinsically unhealthy, a claim you don't seem to be willing to retract.

I'm not defining unhealthy out of existence. There is unhealthy food. An example that comes to mind is some seafood that has toxins of one kind or another incoporated with it. I prefer my Lake Perch without traces of mercury.

[...]nor do I see what is so bad about saying that some places serve food that is unhealthy.

Because it's misleading to say that MCD's food is unhealthy. It seems to me you want to change the meaning of unhealthy food to refer to food that some people should probably only eat infrequently, if at all. I don't see what purpose that serves, but I do see it promoting confusion. And in fact it has.

RKN, This is exactly my

RKN,

This is exactly my concern though. Surely the distinction between 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' food is a useful one to have. You are defining 'unhealthy' out of existence. I don't really see what is to be gained by that, nor do I see what is so bad about saying that some places serve food that is unhealthy. It doesn't follow that we ought to ban it or even that we ought never to eat it. It just provides us with a way of distinguishing between food that we should eat regularly and food that we shouldn't eat regularly.

RKN, _Can you name a food

RKN,

_Can you name a food whose calories don’t come from either carbohydrate, protein, or fat? I can’t._

I didn't punctuate very well. I didn't intend the sentence to say that it provides calories from carbs, protein and fat. I meant that it provides calories mostly from carbs, and also provides protein and fat. It doesn't provide much else. The veggies on some burgers do provide a tiny amount of vitamins, but you probably shouldn't expect too much from the three pickles and two strings of onion on your quarter pounder.

Yes, you are right that much turns on your entire lifestyle. Someone who is very active can eat lots of fast food and probably be fine, depending on various hereditary factors.

My worry about your characterization of McDonald's food is that, on your account, no food will ever be unhealthy. I can, after all, eat just about any non-poisonous food in very small amounts, and, if I exercise enough, I'll be fine. So if by 'intrinsically unhealthy' you mean 'a small amount will harm you' then no food is 'intrinsically unhealthy'. But all that move does is to erase what had been a useful distinction between healthy food and unhealthy food.

I think that Spurlock's implicit definition is that healthy food is "food that the average person with average habits can eat regularly without terrible consequences." I don't think that's an unreasonable standard to hold. And on that standard, McDonald's food is unhealthy. It doesn't mean you can't/shouldn't ever eat it. It means only that you should eat it sparingly. Indeed, that might be another way of defining "unhealthy": food that one should eat sparingly.

Salads, for the record, would be bad if they were all that you ate. But I could eat a salad three times a day, adding in a few other things, and I would probably be just fine. Unless you exercise _a lot_, I don't think that adding a few other things to McDonald's three times a day would have the same effect for most people.

I didn’t punctuate very

I didn’t punctuate very well. I didn’t intend the sentence to say that it provides calories from carbs, protein and fat. I meant that it provides calories mostly from carbs, and also provides protein and fat. It doesn’t provide much else. The veggies on some burgers do provide a tiny amount of vitamins, but you probably shouldn’t expect too much from the three pickles and two strings of onion on your quarter pounder.

Sure, but my point in mentioning those other things was that they provide metabolites that are intrinsically *healthy*, i.e. necessary to a proper functioning metabolism. They are not intrinsically *unhealthy*, and neither is the beef patty or the bun. They all metabolize quite nicely in the body.

I'm not advocating anyone eat MCD's food exclusively, regardless of their overall lifestyle, I'm simply not convinced there is anything intrinsically unhealthy (detrimental to a proper functioning metabolism) about the food.

Salads, for the record, would be bad if they were all that you ate. But I could eat a salad three times a day, adding in a few other things, and I would probably be just fine. Unless you exercise a lot, I don’t think that adding a few other things to McDonald’s three times a day would have the same effect for most people.

Many people have lifestyles which are not conducive to their personal wellness. A poor diet could exacerbate this, but again, that's a very different conclusion from "McDonald's food is intrinsically unhealthy."

You mention salads, and people think their doing better by themselves eating them, that is until they squeeze on that 1/4-cup package of French dressing.

Moral: No food is intrinsically unhealthy, lifestyles are.