Blaine,like the rest of America, is getting fatter

Published on Thu, Oct 11, 2007 by Jack Kintner

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Blaine, like the rest of America, is getting fatter

By Jack Kintner

Since 1980 the number of obese people in this country has doubled, and the number of adolescents who are moderately to extremely overweight has tripled.

In the last 10 years, the costs associated with diabetes, a disease closely connected to obesity, have also doubled.

These statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services point out a disturbing national trend, that Americans are not only the fattest people on earth, but they’re getting fatter at an alarming rate.

Blaine physical education teacher Dan Persse said he has seen evidence of this growing national problem at the local level, and has become concerned. To help educate people about the issue he’s showing the 2004 award-winning documentary Supersize Me in Blaine on October 21. The movie graphically shows the results when a healthy 33-year-old man subsists on a steady diet of McDonalds fast food for a month.

“It’s not when, where or how you eat,” said Persse, “it is what you eat. Calories and physical activity is simply the key.” He added that as he assesses elementary students using a measurement called body mass index he can detect the same kind of increase in obesity locally as is illustrated by the statistics from the federal government.

In 2002, a lawsuit was filed against the McDonalds fast food chain on behalf of two New York teenagers, one of them 14 years old, 4-foot, 10 inches tall and 170 pounds, and the other 19 years old, 5-foot, six inches tall and 270 pounds.

The attorney’s statement said they went after McDonalds “because they go after our kids. They’re the ones with the birthday parties, the clown and the playgrounds.”

The chain has 30,000 stores in 100 countries, feeds 46 million people a day and has a 43 percent market share among fast food outlets in the U.S.

Attorneys for McDonalds say the danger of the food they serve is universally known, and the two children named in the suit cannot show that their weight gain is due solely to a McDonalds diet.

However, the judge said that if they allege that McDonalds intended use for the food they sell is to be eaten for every meal every day, and that they are or should be aware that eating McDonalds product every meal is unreasonably dangerous, then they have a basis for a complaint.
The lawsuit failed and the movie’s producer, director, writer and on-screen star, Morgan Spurlock, subsequently decided to do what the judge described and eat nothing but McDonalds food for 30 days to see what happened.

The movie follows him through a month of gaining 25 pounds while he experiences mood swings, sexual dysfunction and nearly catastrophic liver damage.

The movie is graphic but is rated PG, and will be shown at the Performing Arts Center Sunday afternoon October 21 at 4 p.m.
Admission is free.