25,000th Big Mac in one man’s belly. A Wisconsin man is going to eat, yes that number you read is correct, his 25,000th Big Mac today — the 39th anniversary of his very first Big Mac. Don Gorske sometimes has two Big Macs a day. Gorske rose to “fame” from the documentary movie Super Size Me. The movie followed director Morgan Spurlock as he ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days. Though Spurlock came down with a host of health problems eating nothing but McDonald’s, Gorske is living the McDonald’s dream. Unbelievably, he still has low cholesterol. Some people are just genetic marvels, but for a majority of the U.S. population, cholesterol is a major issue.
Fast Food Chains Offering Statins
Someday soon we could see fast food chains dishing out statins, cholesterol lowering drugs, with meals. Researchers studied risk reduction strategies for people with high-fat eating habits from a new angle. They looked at seven randomized control trials (a total of 50,000 participants) that had previously examined the ability of a daily statin medication to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by virtue of lowering cholesterol. Statins are medications that are used to lower cholesterol, such as Lipitor. What they found was that using a daily statin demonstrated a risk reduction comparable to (and in many cases more powerful than) the potential increased risk of consuming a Quarter Pounder® with cheese and a small milkshake.
Of course, what a free cholesterol-lowering statin can’t do is take away the toxic consequences of the other components of regular fast-food meals. Fast food contains excess calories, which lead to obesity and increased risk for type 2 diabetes, as well as high amounts of sodium, which contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for stroke.
Herein lies the danger. If we placate the desire for fast foods with a pill — or “sprinkle-on statins,” as the researchers suggest — we neglect to address the inherent problem.
If you want low-calorie fast food, which chain do you choose: Subway or McDonald’s? While most people would undoubtedly choose Subway, that could be a very fat answer.
A team of researchers found diners underestimated calories in food from Subway – a fast food restaurant that markets itself as a “healthier” alternative — by 35 percent more than they did from comparable choices at McDonald’s, which does not claim to be healthier. The researchers hypothesize consumers were prone to a phenomenon known as a “health-halo,” which caused them to underestimate calories from restaurants they perceived to be healthier. They ultimately consumed more calories at the “healthy” restaurant than they would have otherwise.
Welcome to the new enemy in the battle of the bulge — the health halo. If we think our main course is good, we are more likely to order a side of very bad. Hence, the Subway diners in the study were more likely to justify ordering desserts, such as cookies. Seemingly influenced by the health halo, consumers believed that a 1,000-calorie meal at Subway actually contained 21.3 percent fewer calories than a 1,000-calorie meal at McDonald’s.
As we reported recently, similar research found foods labeled “organic” were mistaken by consumers to be lower in calories. Don’t be fooled into letting the “health halo” ruin your dieting efforts.
As the researchers point out, eating just 160 extra calories twice a week can amount to a 5 lb. annual weight gain. And, while it’s okay to indulge in a high-calorie meal from time to time, balancing it out with lighter meals or more exercise for the rest of the day is key to preventing unintended weight gain.
Check out this guide on 6 Tips To Choosing Healthy Fast Food.
People who regularly eat a diet based on vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy unsaturated fats and fruit will be healthier than individuals who “neutralize” their regular fast food habit with statins. These researchers have proven that they understand the plight of those who love fast food, but their cheeky recommendation is one that may help win an individual battle — but still lose the war.