Remember “Super Size Me,” the 2004 documentary about what supposedly happens when you eat at McDonald’s?
In the film, independent filmmaker Morgan Spurlock gained nearly 30 pounds from eating at McDonald's for a month. I’ll confess: it did cross my mind at the time that Spurlock, an activist who has since parlayed his notoriety into a gig at CNN, tried to gain weight.
So I was delighted to learn about John Cisna, a science teacher in Ankney, Iowa, who lost weight by eating all his meals from McDonald’s for ninety days. It was part of a science experiment. This clip and this story from an English newspaper explain what Cisna did:
A daring science teacher who survived on eating only McDonald's meals for 90 days has shed nearly 40lbs.
John Cisna of Ankney, Iowa, ate three meals a day at his local store but made sure he conformed to strict nutritional requirements.
Cisna and his students used online nutritional information to construct a daily diet plan that exceeded no more than 2000 calories a day and included 45 minutes of exercise.
In addition to dropping 39 pounds, Cisna also saw his cholesterol level fall from 249 to 170. It should be noted that Cisna also inaugurated a walking program.
Spurlock boasted of having eaten around 5,000 calories a day during his McDonald’s experiment. Nevertheless “Super Size Me” was widely hailed as proof that McDonald’s will make us fat (and trigger mood swings such as the ones Spurlock experienced during his month of eating dangerously).
But what Spurlock really proved was something we already know: if you eat 5,000 a day, you will gain weight. Cisna, by the way, ate the full range of McDonald’s foods, including the Big Mac and fries. But he kept within nutritional guidelines.
And, unlike Spurlock, Cisna proved something important: “It’s our choices that make us fat—not McDonald’s,” Cisna said. This is the message that activists such as Spurlock don't want you to hear.
Spurlock and others who want to punish McDonald’s for the chain’s supposed aesthetic and culinary sins downplay choice in favor government intervention. That McDonald’s provides an inexpensive and delicious meal out for harassed parents with their children doesn’t matter to them. They want the government to tell you what to do.