By Jonathan Monis, Contributor
Morgan is the director and lead star of the documentary entitled Super Size Me. It documents Morgan’s journey to prove the causal link of fast foods (represented by McDonald’s in the story) to growing obesity and other serious health problems in America.
Morgan ate only McDonald’s foods for 30 days. He had rules for his experiment: He would only dine at McDonald’s three times a day, and he would go for Supersize only when prompted by the crew.
After 30 days, he gained 24½ lbs., and his cholesterol, uric acid, and liver enzymes vastly exceeded normal levels. He also experienced mood swings, food addiction, and sexual dysfunction. The experiment brought extreme physical and psychological problems in a short span of time.
Obesity is a worldwide epidemic affecting particularly developed countries and well-off people. In the United States, more than half of the population is overweight and obese. Obesity is an established risk factor of diabetes, hypertension,and other lifestyle-related diseases. Obesity and lifestyle-related diseases not only affect adult population:they also become rampant among adolescents and children. Early-onset type 2 diabetes and hypertension are fast emerging, and are linked to unhealthy environments for children.
Today, there are advertisements left-and-right for fast food, candies, chocolates, and unhealthy foods. Fast-food chains are seen at almost every corner. Moreover, most fast-food chains really target children. They have services solely for children, such as play areas, kiddie meals that feature toys, and celebrations for children. Advertisements are packaged to entice children. They show young models enjoying their products, and TV shows for children.
What fascinated me about that documentary was when Morgan asked children to identify different personalities shown in pictures. None of them were able to identify Jesus Christ, but all of them recognized Ronald McDonald.
Fast-food chains really spend huge money on advertisements and other materials to make their products popular. If you are a child who used to see, feel, smell, and love these foods, there is a good chance that eating junk foodwill remain part of your system even as an adult. Moreover, you will possibly bring your children to fast-food restaurants as well, and the vicious cycle will repeat.
In the Philippines, obesity and lifestyle-related diseases are emerging but neglected. There are now cases of early-onset type 2 diabetes, which were not in the public health picture before. Urbanization and globalization are counted among the culprits for these problems. Though it resulted in the improvement of health facilities and technologies, and better access to healthcare, it has also changedthe way people live.
People tend to choose unhealthy options with high fats and sugars and tend to exercise less. Globalization has also brought the concept of fast food, which is Western in origin. In addition, it has also expanded fast food giants and extendedthem into developing countries, influencing children’s diets through effective marketing strategies.
Through the years, there have been changes in the serving size of fast-food meals, especially the unhealthiest: fries and softdrinks. There are now large and extra large choices, aside from the traditional upsize option. I have noticed the same trend in the United States: they started from smaller cups and containers,then insidiously introduced people to larger servings.
If this will not stop, we will see our future young ones bloated and a burden to public health. But I believe that we can change this path, and weare the main ingredientsof change. I concede that I am also swayed by psychedelic multi-level strategies of fast food companies. I crave for fries and juicy burgers. Often, I order two pieces of fried chicken, preferring unhealthy parts. But I would like to start this advocacy with myself and will pledge to minimize, if not totally remove, fast foods and unhealthy options. Through this, I’m hoping to influence other people for better living.