Free viewing of Super Size Me Sunday

Published on Thu, Oct 18, 2007 by Jack Kintner

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Free viewing of Super Size Me Sunday

By Jack Kintner

The documentary movie Super Size Me, addressing what many doctors are calling an epidemic of obesity among American children, will be shown free at the Performing Arts Center on Sunday, October 21 at 4 p.m.

The film follows independent filmmaker Morgan Spurlock as he embarks on a month-long diet of McDonalds fast food and gains more than 25 pounds, his cholesterol rises to dangerous levels and his liver nearly dives into the kind of failure seen in advanced alcoholics.

Though eating all meals at a fast food outlet is not something most people do, the experiment dramatically illustrated just how bad eating habits can and have been damaging to our health as consumers. A diet high in calories, whether because of the food itself or the portions, will lead to too much storage of energy in the form of fat.

Too much fat leads to becoming overweight, then obesity unless changes are made in lifestyle and diet. The point of the movie is that people who want to avoid obesity and the health risks that go along with it will also want to avoid relying on fast food as a source of healthy nutrition.

One in five children in the U.S. is now overweight, and the number continues to grow, doubling in the last 20 years, according to the medical journal Pediatric Adolescent Medicine. Though kids have fewer weight-related problems than adults, they are highly likely to continue to be overweight as adults. This greatly increases their risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and some kinds of cancer.

The same increase in overweight kids can be seen in Blaine from measurements taken during physical education classes of body mass index, the ratio between a kid’s weight and height. Assessment can be tricky with individual children since they tend to grow in spurts, but nationally and locally the overall trend is both convincing and alarming.

The most common causes of obesity in children are related to genetic factors, lack of exercise, unhealthy eating factors or a combination of all three. If a child’s siblings or parents are overweight then there’s a greater likelihood that they will be, too, and rarely will their weight be due to some kind of medical condition.

Lifestyle means diet and exercise, and there are many studies that conclude we, as a society, are eating more and doing less. The incidence of obesity in this country, 60 percent, exactly matches the incidence of the population that regularly get little or no exercise. On average Americans watch 24 hours of television each week, and that’s usually not from a treadmill or the saddle of an exercise bike.

According to elementary PE teacher Dan Persse, the foods we eat should contain nutrients the body needs to function: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. Carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains) should represent about 58 percent of the calories we need each day and are a source of vitamins and minerals.

As a general rule, the darker the carbohydrate the more nutrients there are. Proteins (dairy, meats, and beans) should represent about 12 percent of one’s daily calories, and are another source of vitamins and minerals. Fats (oils) should represent about 30 percent of the calories consumed each day. While fat has no nutritional value, fatty acids are necessary for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, provide vital protection for bones and organs and store energy.

A National Institutes of Health pamphlet called Take Charge of Your Health lists daily examples in both kind and amount for a healthy diet from five different groups. Six servings of bread (including cereals, rice and pasta), two of fruits, three of vegetables, two of milk (including yogurt and cheese) and two of meat (including chicken, fish, beans, eggs and nuts). The pamphlet urges teens to eat less fats, oils and sweets such as butter, margarine, oils, candy, high fat dressings and soft drinks as all of them contain little or no protein vitamins or minerals.

Two of the best sources of nutritional information and daily caloric needs for adults and kids can easily be found at myplate.gov and www.eatright.org.