In 2004 Morgan Spurlock released the controversial documentary Super Size Me. In the film he goes on a 30 day fast food only diet. His purpose was to alert the public of the danger to health the fast food industry has become. The film was more about the obesity problem in America and less about the evil McDonald’s Empire, but he makes several points which one might interpret as being pro-fast food regulation. Spurlock became somewhat of a cult figure among the health conscious crowd and was considered a hero, of sorts. It appears he suffered severe kidney and liver problems during the diet, but soldiered on.
Along comes Tom Naughton, who found some faults with that film. So, Tom decides to go on a 30 day fast food diet as well. The difference is that he will pay attention to his calorie, fat, and carb intake and attempt to eat somewhat sensibly during that month. Tom has somewhat better results that Spurlock did. He actually lost weight, reduced his fat count, and improved his cholesterol situation, making his physician a little unhappy at what he was proving. Is Tom Naughton saying that eating a full slate of fast food is good for you? No, that’s not his point. He’s really preaching personal responsibility. He makes that point by spending an entire day hanging around the outside of fast food restaurants, waiting for someone to drag him inside and force him to eat. Obviously, that doesn’t happen. He also films a segment where a McDonald’s employee asks the age old question, “Would you like fries with that”, to which Naughton replies, “No”. He shows the feigned surprise when the employee accepts his answer. The point, again, is that no one is forcing you to eat anything you don’t want to eat. He challenges Spurlock’s contention that these chains make it hard to get the nutritional information on the food. It turns out that most provide it right there. If not, every single chain provides it on their web site. No computer, you say. Naughton shows us just how easy it is to use one at the local library. Still too hard? He went to his small town’s smallest bookstore and found 5 books in short time that published the information.
Naughton’s entertaining enough, and he provides plenty of scientists and doctors to back up his claims. He postulates that it’s money that has led us down the nutritional nightmare we live in today. Whether it’s grants or book deals, Naughton makes it pretty clear how false information can be supported by even accredited persons. Of course, we have to figure into the equation that the same standard would apply to his experts. There are some Monty Python-like animation segments, and Naughton provides enough comic relief to keep the whole thing interesting, but not for over 100 minutes. It’s overlong, and bits are repeated to fill time. Still, it will challenge a few of your core beliefs.
Fat Head is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The quality varies. It depends on where Naughton or his subjects are and what equipment they happen to have along. Most of it looks like television news footage. Colors are always pretty good, but there are moments that the digital noise is extreme. It’s a documentary and shouldn’t really be judged on video quality.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is all about dialog. This is a documentary, after all. You can hear everything clear and fine.
40 Minutes of extra interview footage
The experts don’t agree, and even when they do, they keep changing their minds. I’m convinced your heredity has more to do with your risk of heart disease than any single factor, including your diet. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can keep stuffing your face with cake and ice cream exclusively and not suffer ill effects. I grew up on an Italian diet, mostly. That means lots of things that are bad for you. Remember “heart attack on a plate”? I love that stuff. It also means we include many of the top healthy foods in our diet, including plenty of garlic, olive oil, and cooked tomatoes. This back and forth about what’s good for you isn’t new. Did you know that for centuries most of Europe thought that tomatoes were poisonous? The Italians knew better, and now today they’re one of the healthiest foods out there. I even remember when wine was bad for you, but Grandpop always said it was good for the blood. How in the heck did he know better than the Surgeon General at the time? I’m with Naughton here. Eat what your body wants, Mother nature does know a thing or two about what’s good for ya. By the way, Naughton provides plenty of obesity shots, “in case you don’t know what fat people look like”.