McD’s Diet Puts Super Size in Reverse

Discussion
Aug 12, 2005
George Anderson

Merab Morgan doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with what’s on McDonald’s menu. The problem, as she sees it, is that people don’t know how to make the right choices on what to order when they pull up to a drive-through or walk into one of the chain’s fast food restaurants.


“Just because they accidentally put an apple pie in my bag instead of my apple dippers doesn’t mean I’m going to say, ‘Oh, I can eat the apple pie,'” she said.


Ms. Morgan, a mother of two and a construction worker, decided to go on a McD’s-only diet after seeing the documentary Super Size Me where a man put on 30 pounds after eating only foods from the restaurant. Instead of ordering meal after meal of Big Macs, however, Ms. Morgan decided to be more judicious in her selections.


According to a report by The Associated Press, Ms. Morgan Morgan “used nutritional information downloaded from McDonald’s Web site to create meal plans of no more than 1,400 calories a day.”


After 90 days on her McD’s diet, Ms. Morgan had shed 37 pounds, going from 227 pounds to 190.


Another woman, Soso Whaley, also went on a McDonald’s-only diet and developed her own documentary, Me and Mickey D, to record the process. Ms. Whaley restricted her menu choices to keep her within 2,000 calories a day. After ninety days on the diet, she also lost weight, going from 175 to 139 pounds.


“I had to think about what I was eating,” she said. “I couldn’t just walk in there and say ‘I’ll take a cinnamon bun and a Diet Coke.’ … I know a lot of people are really turned off by the whole thought of monitoring what they are eating, but that’s part of the problem.”


Moderator’s Comment: Will Merab Morgan and Soso Whaley’s experiences with McDonald’s diet change the focus of responsibility in the media and medical
circles from food manufacturers and providers to the individual? If you’re McDonald’s, do you use the good (Me and Mickey D) and the bad (Super Size Me) of the documentaries
made on the company’s menu options to make an objective case for balance in nutritional and other lifestyle choices?

George Anderson – Moderator

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13 Comments on "McD’s Diet Puts Super Size in Reverse"


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Al McClain
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Al McClain
15 years 6 months ago
“…people don’t know how to make the right choices on what to order…” This is why we have a weight problem in our society. We apparently have lots of folks running around who don’t know that if they order the salads and don’t put on a lot of dressing, they’ll do better than a Big Mac combo with large fries. Hard to know whether to believe consumers could be that dumb. I happen to like to go to the local Dairy Queen a bit too often in the summer. But, every time, I notice the difference between the out of shape crowd there, and the in shape crowd at the gym, and connect the dots. Most people should be able to connect the dots as well, and if they can’t, the problems are not limited to fast food choices. So, consumers like to eat unhealthy fast food. McDonald’s is doing what it can by offering healthier choices. Let them do a bit of promotion and education for these items, and let’s call it a day,… Read more »
Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

I don’t think it will change anything, really. People either already know and accept the basic realities of life and diets, or they don’t. These women were very smart to jump on this and make a point (and a buck!), and this is America, after all. No doubt it is possible to make relatively healthier choices at McDonald’s, but so long as the main core of the menu has ungodly high fat and calorie contents, I can’t see McDonald’s credibly coming out with Subway-type ads.

James Tenser
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

I think next we should vilify grocery stores for selling thousands of tons of potatoes, ice cream, bread, beans, cheese, butter and pasta. Do doubt, millions of people have fattened up on those foods. How can the supermarkets be so irresponsible? Don’t they realize that Americans no longer are capable of exercising personal judgment in their own best interest? We’re all victims, I tell you!

While we are at it, let’s blame the manufacturers and dealers of TV sets, cars and recliner chairs – for making us too sedentary. Hold on a minute while I phone my lawyer…

As for the recent rash of folks who have decided to seek self-worth and media immortality by consuming an all-fast-food diet, all I can say (in the immortal words of Alfred E. Newman) is “blecccchhhhh!” I know I’d lose weight on such a regime – because I’d lose my appetite.

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
15 years 6 months ago

Have you tried ordering something other than “the number 3” at McDonald’s? It’s not easy. It takes a lot more work to make the cashier understand you, and then you have to watch them fulfill your order to make sure they get it right and double check what actually ended up on the tray. There’s mutual responsibility – how many ‘healthy’ options are available on the value menu? None, or some stores have added a salad and a water as an option. But that doesn’t make it any less an issue of personal responsibility if consumers are too lazy to overcome the ‘overhead’ of trying to order outside the norm at a McD’s.

Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 6 months ago

How much influence these women’s diets have on the rest of the world depends somewhat on how much media attention they receive. I certainly anticipate that fast food purveyors will use these in any of the existing litigation.

Personally, I think “Supersize Me” made some very good points about what’s available and how people in America are fed and choose to eat. These two women, hopefully, will put the focus back on personal responsibility, demontrating that, ultimately, we each control what goes into our mouths. In the meantime, I would love to see mfr.’s decrease portion size (even though many are successfully increasing portion size, which likely makes this a wistful dream).

Tom Zatina
Guest
Tom Zatina
15 years 6 months ago

Unfortunately, the better story for the media and the medical community to focus on involves pointing the finger at the fast food operators. Pointing the finger at the consumer just doesn’t seem to create enough attention. In the end, though, it is all about the choices made by so many of us all-too-often weak-willed consumers.

Krista Jarvis
Guest
Krista Jarvis
15 years 6 months ago

Check out http://www.bowlingformorgan.com. It includes a 20 minute video of Scott Caswell’s “McDonalds’s Only” Diet. If I remember correctly, he lost 20 pounds in one month! (Warning – video is a little over the top.)

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

McDonald’s has big PR problems and they know it. They invented the Ronald McDonald House charity to give them good PR. It would be smart to focus PR work on appropriate nutrition topics, and the menu reform (salads) is a good move, too.

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 6 months ago

Hurray for Ms. Morgan and her compatriots. Supersize Me was entertainment, not science. The only point proven across all of these “experiments” is that your choices matter.

I don’t expect either side will change anything. To the extent Supersize Me made people think twice about eating high-calorie fast food every day, and maybe got McD’s to add salads across the country, good for it. If the flip-side reinforces the idea that it’s not where you eat, it’s what, and keeps the salads on the menu, all the better.

Mari Uyehara
Guest
Mari Uyehara
15 years 6 months ago

The difference between “Supersize Me” and reverse McD’s diets is that Mr. Spurlock mimicked what most people, particularly regular customers, eat when they go to McDonald’s. Ms. Morgan and Ms. Whaley’s eating habits at McDonald’s were out of the norm and not representative of the eating habits that McDonald’s and other fast food chains cultivate. Although, personal responsibility certainly comes to bear when each individual makes choices, we have to wonder why as a society our obesity problem is much greater than other industrialized countries.

suzette rodriguez
Guest
suzette rodriguez
15 years 6 months ago

It’s all about freedom and personal responsibility. McDonald’s is free to sell fast-food and people have the freedom of choice to eat well or not. McDonald’s is responsible to provide nutritional information but they are not required to monitor individual choices. Any intelligent person knows that you need fruit and veggies in your diet and that Super Size Me was an attention grabbing stunt on film (for it appears we have become a nation of posers and cheaters). The responsibility to eat right lies in the hands of the individual. It is called personal responsibility. I applaud those two women for bringing the issue of personal responsibility back into the forefront.

jared colautti
Guest
jared colautti
15 years 6 months ago

The people in these documentaries may have lost weight on their McDonald’s diet, but at what nutritional cost? A 90-day diet of paper and water is also an effective way of losing weight, but not one that many doctors would condone.

I agree that consumers should shoulder a greater level of food responsibility, but manufacturers are still in control. Consumers put a certain level of blind trust in food producers like McDonald’s, believing that they won’t be sold something that is detrimental to their health over the long term. Super Size Me showed that the trust was unfounded. It was a response to McDonald’s own claims that they provide “healthy, good food,” which is obviously not true for 90% of their menu.

Timothy Winters
Guest
Timothy Winters
15 years 6 months ago

muyehara makes a good point. The point of “Super Size Me” was to point out the choices that people make within the framework of the choices that McDonald’s offers in their menu. If most of the meal choices on the menu are bad for your health, then people shouldn’t be eating McDonald’s. It’s nice that some people can do a “McDonald’s diet” and lose weight… but that wasn’t the point of “Super Size Me.” The filmmaker’s rules were to order everything on the menu at least once… and to always get something supersized if asked. The sum total of McDonald’s food is hazardous to your health.

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