Seeger Chapel steeple against an orange sunset

Milligan professor goes behind- the- scenes with “The ‘Minimize Me’ Project”


MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (Nov. 13, 2014) – When the student film “The ‘Minimize Me’ Project” premiered at the 14th annual Milligan College Film Festival last spring, its message was anything but minimal.

Produced by Dr. John Simonsen, professor of human performance and exercise science at Milligan, the film was a direct response to the popular documentary “Super Size Me,” in which Morgan Spurlock eats a diet of McDonald’s food exclusively for a month resulting in a sharp decline of his health.

“We demonstrated someone could eat ‘fast food’ and not only maintain health parameters, but actually improve some,” said Simonsen, who teamed with director Shea Judge, now an alum, on “Minimize Me.”

Simonsen plans to explore their research methods when he revisits the film during Milligan’s ongoing Faculty Lecture Series on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. in Hyder Auditorium located in Milligan’s Science Building. The lecture is free and open to the public.

The film focuses on junior Jarod Hensley, who was a freshman when recruited by Judge to eat three meals at McDonald’s and one snack every day. He also was required to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise almost every day and more intense strength training two days each week.

“The main aspect of our research was following the subject for changes in several parameters related to fitness and health,” said Simonsen, who hopes to present the film at a professional conference in February.

The experiment was a success: Hensley lost 16 pounds in four weeks.

In addition to discussing the research methods that led to the project’s success, Simonsen will address Morgan Spurlock’s movie head-on in his lecture.

“Spurlock did not demonstrate in a valid way the basic point that he was trying to make then and continues to make today in media interviews,” said Simonsen. “I want to show that an understanding of good research methods versus poor ones can help people have a better understanding of information they hear every day in the ‘real world.’”

For Hensley, the experience continues to pay off. Before coming to Milligan, he weighed 325 pounds. Now, two years after the documentary started filming, he weighs 248 pounds.

“The project made me think about how I commit to things,” said Hensley, who is studying Bible at Milligan and plans to work in a church when he graduates. “So many people depended on me, I didn’t want to let them down.”

The 34-minute documentary will be shown in full during the lecture.

“Ultimately, I hope the audience will not only be entertained by the film, but think more deeply about how research questions must be approached appropriately in order to get meaningful answers,” said Simonsen. “Unlike ‘Super Size Me,’ we did it in a way that was fairer to fast food.”

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Posted by on November 13, 2014.