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Mac Attack

Documentary-Maker Follows Big Mac Diet

SARA NUWAR

February 4, 2004

A MAN who ate nothing but fast food from McDonald's for a month has revealed how his body ended up a total wreck.

Documentary-maker Morgan Spurlock, 33, put on almost two stone while scoffing Egg McMuffins for breakfast and Big Macs and fries for lunch and tea.

After 30 days on the junk-food diet his cholesterol level had rocketed from 165 to 230.

Spurlock charted the experience in a documentary called Super Size Me, shown at the Sundance Film Festival.

He explained: "A year ago, I was sitting on my mom's couch watching a piece on CNN about the kids who filed lawsuits against McDonald's in New York.

"Lawyers and spokesmen for one of the food companies were coming forward saying, 'Listen, you can't link the food to the kids being sick, to the kids being overweight. Our food is nutritious'.

"And so I thought if that's true, realistically I should be able to eat your food for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 30 days straight with no ill side-effects. That was the launching pad of the movie."

Within a few weeks of starting the experiment he was vomiting, suffering headaches and depression and had even seen a dip in his sex drive.

"It was really crazy - my body basically fell apart over the course of 30 days," said Morgan.

His liver became toxic due to the increase in his cholesterol and he had splotches on his skin.

He said: "My body began to fall apart and I had this huge gut. I mean, there's just so much fat in this food and my body - it just couldn't take it. My body just - it went into shock immediately.

"In one month, in 30 days, I gained almost 30 pounds - a lot of weight."

The cheeseburgers, shakes and breakfast meals New Yorker Spurlock was eating are packed with fat, sugar and refined carbohydrates. With a Big Mac alone totalling 590 calories, Spurlock's McDonald's lunch racked up 1,930, while dinner came in at 2,090 and his daily total added up to a massive 6,500 calories - the healthy daily intake is just 2,500 for men and 2,000 for women.

When the fat content was measured, each day's diet came to 244gm - nearly THREE times the healthy maximum. Morgan added: "I think that it will definitely make you think twice before you walk in and get a burger and fries. It's now been a while since I've had one."

During the tongue-in-cheek documentary he is examined by medical expert Dr Daryl Isaacs, who said no one imagined that his body would deteriorate so quickly.

"He was an extremely healthy person who got sick eating this diet. The liver testwas the most shocking thing - it became very, very abnormal," said the doctor, who monitored the experiment along with a stomach specialist and a a cardiologist. Morgan's girlfriend Alex Jamieson is a vegan chef and was horrified when she heard of her boyfriend's plans. He said: "She wasn't at all happy but she realised what my goals were in trying to educate people."

The film also sees Morgan - who took two months to recover from his burger-fuelled binge - travelling across the USA talking to people about America's obesity explosion.

He said: "The money the fast food industry makes and spends is incredible - mostly on advertising. The way they manipulate children is disgusting - via playgrounds, toys, the happy clown. It's scary, but I think the scarier part is that most of us have allowed our culinary lives to be hijacked by such bad food. As a nation we're fat because we eat too much crap and don't exercise."

A spokesman for McDonald's insisted: "Consumers can achieve balance in their daily dining decisions by choosing from our array of quality offerings."

Sunday Mirror health and slimming expert Trisha Welch says: "I'm not surprised Morgan put on weight and felt so unwell. For a month he missed out on essential nutrients from fruit and vegetables.

"But the hidden killer here is the fat. The average man should eat a maximum of 95gm of fat per day and 70gm for a woman - but the fat in a Big Mac and large fries alone is 67gm.

"McDonald's has tried to bring in lower fat foods like salads but the truth is if we go into a burger joint we are usually after burger!

"Once in a while it's OK to have burger and fries as part of a varied and healthy diet but I'd recommend things like the fillet of fish - but really you should scrape the breadcrumbs off."

BODYWORKS

Tricia WelchTrisha Welch, our health and slimming expert says: "I'm not surprised Morgan put on weight and felt unwell on his fast food diet - it's high in fat and calories. For a month he missed out on essential nutriants that he should have been getting from fruit and vegetables.

"But the hidden killer here is the fat.

BREAKFAST

SAUSAGE AND BACON McMUFFIN - with a fried egg, cheese and tomato sauce 10 HASH BROWNS - with extra salt COFFEE - cream and sugar ORANGE JUICE

Total cals....................740


LUNCH

BIG MAC - two beef patties with gherkin, lettuce, onions, cheese and sauce in a bun LARGE FRIES - with extra salt LARGE COLA 2 BAKED APPLE PIES

Total cals...................1930

DINNER

QUARTER POUNDER WITH CHEESE - a beef patty with onion, gherkins, cheese and sauce in a bun LARGE FRIES - extra salted LARGE COKE CARAMEL FROZEN YOGHURT SUNDAE

Total cals...................2090

SNACKS

SNACKS: During a typical day Morgan would also get through two of the following... LARGE FRIES, MILKSHAKE, CHICKEN McNUGGETS, CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES, APPLE DANISH PASTRY, ICE CREAM

Total cals....................750

TOTAL NO. OF CALORIES EACH DAY: 5,510

MAX SUSTAINED HEALTHY INTAKE FOR MAN: 2,500 CALORIES