Monday, March 26, 2007

You might as well eat this book

As most of you probably know, Morgan Spurlock is the gentleman who filmed his 30 day McDonald's diet in Supersize Me. I enjoyed the film. It wasn't rocket science, but it did call McDonald's out in a way that got more publicity than previously here in the US.

Now I've read Fast Food Nation, and I saw Spurlock's documentary. I knew going in that there really wouldn't be much I could learn from the book, but I enjoyed the wit of the movie and I was getting the book cheap. So I decided to take the chance. I wish I hadn't.

It's all left me feeling a bit greasy, like a supersized order of fries. Oh, sure, there's a lot of information in the book...but mostly it's information that was covered much more intelligently in Fast Food Nation. I suppose one could argue that it is more accessible in the way that its written. But get the movie rather than the book.

What bothered me the most, and probably wouldn't bother others so much, was the wholehearted acceptance and constant reiteration of the idea that we are in the midst of an "epidemic" of obesity. Let me be clear about my bias: I believe that this "epidemic" has been hyped by the pharmaceutical companies and diet industry to heights that are not quite appropriate to the issue...and offer really effed up solutions.

And while there are any number of books with information about the fast food industry that probably take the same slant, I got the sense not too far into the book that the idea of obesity was somehow personally offensive to Mr. Spurlock. I might be overly sensitive to the issue being one of those people who is so labeled in this society, but I really felt that our writer could think of no fate worse than being fat.

He does take a look at the diet industry and the burgeoning bariatric surgery sub-component of it...and he obviously has issues with the fad diets (he repeatedly calls Dr. Atkins by the name Dr. Fatkins). But I found it particularly damning that while investigating bariatric surgery he didn't confront some of the nastier side-effects that can result. He uncritically mentions that hospitals don't keep statistics about the mortality of bariatric surgery patients post-op. And he never discusses the ways in which people's lives are effected by trying to get enough nutrients when your stomach has been reduced to the size of a walnut.

I could go on but I won't. I just want to try to sell my copy on and get it out of my house.

P.S. For those of you who didn't see my post from yesterday, go is my review of the play party I went to on Saturday. Much more entertaining than this book.

UPDATE: I just went to find out if it was worth it to list on Amazon to sell (it's not, by the way), and have learned that the release of this book was timed to the release of Morgan's girlfriend's book "The Great American Detox Diet." Hmmmm...things seem suddenly a little clearer.

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