A week of McDonalds

Last week I was set the challenge to eat a McDonalds meal twice a day for a week and document the effects it had on my health. It is a social experiment first tried by documentarian Morgan Spurlock for his 2004 film “Super Size Me”. In the film Morgan ate nothing but food served at McDonalds for 30 days. During this time Morgan saw weight balloon as well as suffering a number of severe side effects and issues with his health.

The first thing I needed to do was to get a check-up to see what sort of health my body was in. I weighed in at 69.5 kg which is pretty average for a man my height. I then went to the Cheltenham science centre to take a few tests. They measured my resting heart rate which came in at 57 beats per minute, and then timed how long it took for my heart rate to get back to normal after exercising. My heart rate took two minutes to recover back to its normal rate which is considered healthy.

Finally, they took a reaction test where I averaged 15 on the visual test and 41 on the audio. All of these results showed that I was in a healthy condition before I started the experiment. However, Shaun Adams, one of the staff who worked at the Science centre, expected these results to drop as a result of my new diet. Expecting me to put on weight as well as my “I expect Tom to put on a lot of weight.

“His heart rate will increase more during exercise because it is having to work a lot harder due to the arteries being more clogged up with fatty foods”. Shaun also told me my mental health might also be effected meaning I may feel more down and glum as the week goes on.

After speaking to Shaun I had actually become a bit apprehensive about the experiment especially with the possible physical side effects as I play a lot of football and was worried it might affect my performance on the pitch. However, the first few days I felt great and actually felt stronger during physical activity. I did not feel any loss of energy and was Man of the match when I played football for my Saturday team. I was eating a lot of meat and felt this was benefitting me and helping me gain muscle when I went to the gym. I believed as long as I kept an active lifestyle then I would not gain any significant weight as I was burning it all off.

It wasn’t until the 5th day of the experiment where I started to feel some changes. I was finding it hard to concentrate on anything and my motivation for physical activity was very low, as well my lack of will to do any work for University.

By day six I started feeling pains in my chest and stomach as well as suffering from shortness of breath. By this point I couldn’t wait for the experiment to be over. On the last day I really struggled getting out of bed my chest felt very tight and it felt harder to breathe.

The last meal I order on the 7th day was twenty chicken nuggets and it was extremely difficult eating just one of them never mind the whole box. I felt relief after I had finished the meal knowing I wouldn’t have to eat McDonalds Again for a very long time.

In 2016 a survey by the BBC Good Food Nation revealed that 1 in 6 16 to 20 year olds eat fast food at least twice a day. While that figure was 1 in 8 among 21 to 34 year olds.

McDonalds had become more health conscious in recent years by expanding the menu to include healthier options such as wraps and vegetables. However, a change in CEO in 2015 meant the menu became more focused on focusing the menu on the biggest sellers which meant getting rid of wraps and adding to the menu an even bigger Big Mac which contains 460 Mg of salt. The fact that such a high proportion of people in this country are eating this type of food daily is alarming. Speaking from my experience eating fast food this often cannot lead to a happy lifestyle. Tomorrow I go back to the science centre to go through the same tests as a week ago and I imagine they would have dramatically decreased. However even if physically there has been no change, the effects it has had on my mental well-being, even after a week have been eye opening, and I definitely won’t be visiting the golden arches again for a long time.


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