South Korean man tries a Big Mac on for size

A South Korean gorged for 24 days on fast food to warn his countrymen about its health consequences, mimicking the United States box office-hit documentary Super Size Me about the ill effects of a man’s month-long binge on McDonald’s fare.

Yoon Kwang-yong is now in rehab therapy to lose weight and lower his liver fat.

Although his all-fast-food diet didn’t last as long as that of US director Morgan Spurlock, Yoon says he’s made his point.

“From the fifth day of the experiment, my chest started to feel so heavy, my back and head started to hurt and I couldn’t even breathe well,” said Yoon, a 31-year-old environmentalist in Seoul.

“Would I have the same symptoms if I ate only Korean miso soup and rice for a week?”

In Super Size Me, Spurlock lived on nothing but McDonald’s food for an entire month to show what fast food could do to a human body.

After eating three meals a day at McDonald’s, Spurlock saw his weight surging by 11,25kg to 94,5kg, while his cholesterol level shot up to 230 from 168.

His body fat rose to 18% from 11%.

Yoon began his anti-fast-food campaign on October 16. He videotaped his daily life and kept a journal about what he ate, how many calories he consumed and how much he exercised. He posted the data on the internet.

He says he tried everything on the menu at McDonald’s, KFC and local fast-food franchise Lotteria, eating salads and orange juice everyday to try to keep his nutrient balances.

Still when he ended his experiment after 24 days, he was 3,4kg heavier.
His total body fat increased by 5,2kg. Yoon also reported a severe mood swing and signs of depression and panic attacks.

“It was a rewarding experience to make people think about what fast-food could do to our children and their health,” Yoon said.

Yoon is a member of the Seoul-based Citizens’ Movement for Environmental Justice, which is pushing for legislation to require fast-food makers to disclose their food nutrients and limit commercials targeting children.

South Koreans’ eating habits, traditionally centered on grains and vegetables, have gone through dramatic changes in recent decades. Consumption of meat, once a rarity, surged while foreign fast-food franchises such as McDonald’s and KFC have expanded.

Health problems caused by obesity have become a major concern for many South Koreans, who faced starvation in the years after the 1950-53 Korean War.

After the release of Super Size Me, McDonald’s Korea accused Spurlock of intentionally avoiding exercise, and said that any food can be harmful to people when consumed excessively without enough exercise.

Lotteria, the biggest local fast-food franchise in South Korea, offered no comment.

Yoon says he walked 9 500 steps everyday, twice the average South Korean’s daily exercise. Still his doctor urged him to stop on the 16th and again on the 24th day, warning of a heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases that can be caused by obesity.

“It’s inevitable to get fat when eating such high-fat, high-protein food every day,” said doctor Yang Kil-seung, who monitored Yoon’s experiment. - Sapa-AP

Jung Hawon

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