Well, yesterday I watched the movie Fat Head. Haven’t heard of it? Neither had I. But KMO interviewed him last week, and before hand told me to check it out. So I did (it’s available on Hulu, by the way).
The documentary starts out as a response to Super Size Me, which I haven’t watched since, I don’t know, college maybe, but which I remember liking. Of course, I was also vegan at the time. However, an entire movie bashing the fast food industry can’t be wrong- right? Well, Tom Naughton decides to prove you wrong. You can eat a fast food diet and lose weight! You just have to have a brain, and the ability to decide when too much is too much.
This approach actually annoyed me for the first half of the movie. I mean, regardless of the potential inaccuracies of Super Size Me, there are plenty of other reasons not to eat fast food- including health reasons. The many people he interviewed (including Ms. Sally Fallon Morell) would have, I’m sure, been happy to explain why eating the type of meat they serve at McDonald’s isn’t necessarily the best thing. Or maybe not- for all that Sally Morell claims to be all about small farms, she seems to think it’s better for people to eat crappy meats if they can’t get their hands on the good stuff. Maybe it is. But it’s still bad for you.
Things I wish he had mentioned in the documentary: grass fed beef. The fact that the beef at McDonald’s, or any fast food restaurant, is factory farmed, that confinement feeding operations are hellacious, disgusting, and a crime against nature, and that animals fed a diet of grains (corn and soy) who were not intended to eat a diet of grains are sick and chock full of things that will make us unhealthy as well, including high omega 6 to 3 ratios- which is one of the main causes of inflammation, which he rightfully points out is one of the main causes of heart disease.
Not to mention the problems with large scale slaughterhouses, their mistreatment of workers, the low wages paid to farmers, subsidies for grain, how fossil fuels are at the heart of the fast food/ industrial farming complex, how fast food has driven out native cultures and is shitty for the environment… it would have been nice if some of those things got a mention. Fine, prove the nutritional info in Super Size Me wrong, but at least take the time to point out that fast food still sucks.
Or maybe he didn’t want to be a diet evangelist, as he spends quite a lot of time ranting against diet evangelists? Though I can’t figure how you can not be an evangelist while calling vegans “radical nutcases.”
Overall the movie was entertaining and once he gets past the whole, Super Size Me was wrong thing, very informational. A lot of good information on why cholesterol is not the bad guy it is painted to be, and what the real causes of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are (sugar and carbohydrates, plus trans fats, vegetable oils, and omega 6s). He rightly points out that the studies showing cholesterol to be the bad guy were funded by the people who make cholesterol lowering medications. There is a good section on how we got to the place we are, why the government recommends unholy amounts of grains that no human has even consumed (until the past few generations)(by the way, the answer is money), and why we should ignore them. And he also, and this is the part I especially liked, looks at some of the other reasons why people are having severe health problems, some of which are blatantly obvious.
One of the implications you often get with the protectionists (the people who want the government to tell people what to eat, to ban fats or soda or whatever it is these days) is that people are too stupid to decide these things for themselves, and that they therefore need the government to tell them what to eat. I hesitate to comment on this one, for reasons that people who know me will know, involving past roommates who I suspect might in fact be incapable of understanding nutritional information. But that aside, it’s a fair point. Most people are fairly well aware that what they are eating isn’t all that healthy. They just keep eating it, for one reason or another. Laziness, maybe? Because they just don’t care?
I would probably argue that the real reason is misinformation. People may have a vague idea that soda is a junk food, but it’s likely they don’t know that juice is also- and what the alternatives are. Germans water their juice down, and their juice typically also does not contain added sugar. They may know what’s unhealthy- but do they know what is healthy? I think a lot of people think healthy food means salad and tofu, neither of which are very appealing. I don’t like to eat them either.
Of course, some people are also just delusional (for example, the people who insist raw milk kills babies). And the people who really truly believe that if they sell it in the grocery store, it must be edible.
Several things he pointed out which definitely are true- people eat out a lot more than they used to. Typically (at least before the introduction of packaged meals) you’d be eating healthier at home, so it wasn’t such a big deal if you ate a lot of crappy food at a restaurant every other month. Now some people eat out several times a day, every day. And because everyone is so time crunched (funny how all our time saving machines have left us with less time) people eat a lot of prepared foods, which tend to have a lot of soy and corn in them. People also snack a lot more than they used to (probably a combination of the foods they eat not being as satisfying and boredom), drink way too much soda (even Mr. You Can Lose Weight on Fast Food admits that), and get very little exercise.
And there is one of the key points- people don’t exercise. If you sit on your ass all day, and consume more calories than you use up, you will gain weight. It has to go somewhere. Of course, that isn’t the only factor, but it certainly doesn’t help.
There were some other points of interest, which I may or may not get around to writing about- but in general, I’d say it’s worth a watch, especially if you’re still wrapping your head around the idea that fat is good for you. Because it most definitely is (especially when it comes from pastured animals!).