I watched the movie “Supersize Me” last night. I had actually watched this movie when it first came out. I was so surprised at the difference between then and in my reaction this time! When I watched it in 2004 I remember feeling disgusted by it and shocked at how much weight Morgan Spurlock gained.
Only this time through I was actually sitting there watching it thinking to myself, ‘that’s nothing.’ Eating at McDonalds three times a day for one month, in my mind seemed stupid, and yet when I viewed this move again I thought to myself with all of these over eating, he has as a result only gaining thirty pounds? That’s nothing! If I ate fast food three times a day I would have gained thirty pounds within the first two weeks.
I didn't realize that the movie was actually in response to two teenage girls suing McDonalds because of their obesity. I also didn’t realize that the advertising ploy of ‘Supersize Me’ actually comes from research.
Researchers have found that junk food, and fast food, falls into the category of exaggerated features of normal stimuli. These are the normal stimuli that we are designed to find rewarding. Researchers term this ‘supernormal’. Junk foods and fast foods are supernormal, exaggerated in nature which are versions of our ancestors fruits and nuts, engaging the motivational circuits of the brain.
Dopamine is the molecule that is associated with wanting or craving, underlining our motivation to do basically everything that we do, which includes eating. Increased dopamine levels lead to increased food cravings, and our pleasure response which can become numb by repeated activation, and as it turns out, this same process can happen for super normal stimuli.
It has been found that compulsive eaters are hypersensitive to food related cues, and yet actually after a of time are fest as derived as less than normal pleasure from real food consumption. By eating junk food, and/or fast food, the cravings increase despite deriving less and less pleasure from eating them. Environmental cues become strongly associated with consuming junk food. Like for example; watching TV and having to eat high calorie foods or feeling stressed, is a very common trigger to eat.
What scientists have found is that in the animal kingdom it is the supernormal stimuli that motivates. Foe example; if an animal is naturally aggressive because of the colour red, the more stimulating the red colour the more aggressive the animal becomes. If the animal is stimulated by her bigger the egg, then the more the bird wants the big egg in the nest, and it doesn’t even matter if the egg is real or even if it’s theirs!
It is the supernormal that is the most attractive, and we are consumed by these stimuli and so the concept of ‘Supersize me’ is actually based in the neuroscience of supernormal stimuli. Because it is the supernormal stimuli that excites the motivational circuits in our brains, of which we find extremely rewarding and powerfully motivating.
The ‘Supersize me’ movement is based in the supernormal. It takes a naturally rewarding behaviour and jacks it up to be significantly more stimulating than the original behaviour was. The huge industry of fast food, and junk food, is evidence of just how rewarding and engrossing that supernormal stimulus can be.
Supersize Me=Supersize You.
On the quest to lose 50 pounds in a year. Can she do it? Only time will tell....with the help of this blog.