TeleSeminar Protocol
A Teachable Moment -- an interview with Michelle Cummings

Super Size Me

Supersizeme3In February my wife and I rented an award winning documentary entitled "Super Size Me" .  It's an amazing story about a New Yorker by the name of Morgan Spurlock (that's Morgan with the french fries stuffed in his mouth) who sets out on a quest to eat McDonald's food (and only McDonald's food) for 30 days.  He looks at the legal, financial and physical costs of America's hunger for fast food.  It's funny and it's scary.  The short story is that many Americans are killing themselves with fast food.  Particularly frightening is the rapid increase of childhood obesity.

During the film, Morgan visits a school outside of Chicago and meets with a physical education teacher named Phil Lawler who has taught for 29 years.  Phil and his colleagues have developed a physical education program unlike any I've seen or heard of.  Only 6% of the students at his school are overweight or obese (because of the program).  This is truly remarkable when you consider 70% of the general population in the US is either overweight or obese. 

I was so moved by Phil's story and work that I contacted him via email after watching the movie.  He called me the next day and we talked at length about his work with students around creating a healthy lifestyle. 

And for all of you teachers and parents out there, here is some radical news:  EVERY student K-12 at Phil's school attends PE classes EVERY day (contrast this with the kids in my area who get PE once a week for 20 minutes).  "But what about test scores?" you say.  Everyone knows that PE takes away from classroom time.  And if you take away from classroom time, test scores drop.  Right?!  "Not exactly" says Phil.  Their test scores are higher than average.  And the best part is they have healthy kids in the school.

Phil shares his excitement for the work I do because, he says, teaching team and leadership skills through experiential exercises is the best thing he does.  Phil organizes an annual conference serving 1500 PE teachers and invited me to present two teambuilding games workshops.   

Phillawler2This is Phil and me at the conference.  It was an honor to meet a teacher so fired up about making a difference in the lives of his students. 




According to new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, sugar consumption in 1999 was 158 pounds per person — 30 percent higher than in 1983. Consumption has risen every year but one since 1983.

Did you catch that ---158 pounds of sugar per person. That’s 31 of those 5lb bags of sugar you buy in the grocery store. And Tom, that was in 1999 – what might it be today? (I don’t eat any sugar, so somebody somewhere is eating 300 pounds!)

Liberals love to attack successful American businesses like McDonalds, because it supports their case for exercising control over every thing you do and say. They know perfectly well that fast food has nothing to do with obesity in America. The case against McDonalds like the one against Wal-Mart is politically motivated.

I tried to paste a graph of of the rise in sugar consumption into this text block, but couldn't. The line on the graph looks like the south face of Mt Everest. The fact is, the increase in obesity is in direct parallel with the increased consumption of sugar.

Obesity is not caused by hamburgers. The doubling in the rate of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents in the past 20 years has been caused by soft drinks, Breakfast cereals, candy, the raging popularity of fruit drinks, and sugar added to low fat foods in an effort to make them taste better.

It’s not McDonalds that’s the problem, it’s your local grocery store. One entire isle, both sides, of sugary breakfast cereals. One entire isle of soft drinks. That frozen food case – every single package in the entire isle of frozen food is laced with sugar. One entire isle of chips, crackers and cookies – nothing but sugar. Even potato chips have sugar in them. Every can of canned vegetables has added sugar. And here is the fact that is most relevant. The amount of sugar in all of those things has gone up over the last 20 years.

For every McDonalds in your town there are 20 grocery and convenience stores. There are kids that drink 8 or 10 sodas every day. One single 12 oz soda has the maximum amount of sugar that one ought to eat in a day, and they drink 8. And tomorrow, 8, and the next day 8.

One final thing. Prior to the turn of the century, the average consumption of sugar was only 5lbs per person per year! Back then, Cardiovascular disease and cancer was virtually unknown. When Lewis and Clark made their trek to the Pacific ocean, it is estimated that each member of the team ate on average 5 lbs of meat per day, almost no vegetables, wheat and corn products only occasionally, and no sugar. In hard times they existed on suet (pure fat). All returned home healthy (except one who died of an unknown disease) and lived long lives.

Anybody how eats at McDonalds for 30 days and gains weight is getting fat off the potatoes and that 64 oz Cola, not the hamburger and grease.

Well, that’s my rant for the day.


Geri Koren

Your enthusiasm is contagious. You create an interesting and thought provoking blog.

David Bates

Interesting comments Tyler - particularly about Lewis and Clark's trek to the Pacific Ocean. Of course what you've neglected there is that a trek is a very physically demanding activity that burns up enormous amounts of energy - whereas many people eating similar amounts of meat and suet but who lead largely sedentary lives would rapidly run into serious health problems.

A great example of this is on Tyneside in the UK which used to be a major centre of heavy industry. The diet of most people there was very high in fat and caused no problems - until the heavy industry shut down. While the heavy work had gone, the diet was the same, and the incidence of heart disease increased enormously.

Best wishes,



David, thanks for the Tyneside example. You are right. It is more than just our poor diets. Kids especially are less active. In my community of about 100 condos, I never see kids outside - even on Saturday. When I was a kid (a looong time ago) we were outside running all over the place every minute of daylight every day. Having to be at home in my room was considered punishment. Not so today.

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