It was reported in the news on January 29th, 2011 that 17 year old Stacey Irvine was sent to the hospital due to a stroke after eating nothing but Chicken McNuggets for 15 years.
Stacey Irvine and Don Gorske: Two McDonalds Addicts, Different Outcomes
Stacey Irvine is the second famous McDonald’s addict. The first one, Don Gorske, has fared much better. He became famous after appearing in the movie Super Size Me as the world record holder for most Big Mac’s eaten. In march of 2011 he ate his 25,000th one. He’s been eating them almost daily for 39 years.
Stacey Irvine has a long uphill road ahead of her. To be 17 years old and suffer from chronic lifestyle diseases normally reserved for the old is an ardous, perhaps insurmountable mountain to climb.
Don Gorske, on the other hand, has no such problems. He’s not overweight, has no known medical problems, and on his last doctors vist had a cholesterol level of 156mg/dL, lower than average.
The Difference Between Stacey and Don
While it helps that Don only eats Big Macs and no extras like fries or milkshakes, could that really be the biggest difference between his fate and Stacey’s? After all, she only ate McNuggets. Neither are very good for you.
No, the tale is an example of the precarious role genetics plays in shaping your health destiny. Everything is bad for you at some dosage, and your particular speed limit for absorbing one nutrient or another is set by your genes. With a sparse diet these differences are often imperceptible since your ingested amounts of calories, vitamins, salt, etc is well below most people’s toxic threshold, negating genetic variations between two people.
At extreme dosages differences in genes become much more clear, because they can be the difference between fat and thin, high and low blood pressure, or ending up in a hospital after too many McNuggets. Both Stacey and Don have eating disorders, but in this case Don has won the genetic lottery, and Stacey lost it.
Living by the roll of a die is your fate when you live life on the nutritional margin.
Addendum: Doug at Health Habits also has a post on the subject here.