Super Size Me
Overview
Super Size Me is a 2004 American documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Valentine Spurlock is an American documentary filmmaker, humorist, television producer, screenwriter and journalist best known for the documentary film Super Size Me...

, an American independent filmmaker. Spurlock's film follows a 30-day period from February 1 to March 2, 2003 during which he eats only McDonald's
McDonald's
McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 64 million customers daily in 119 countries. Headquartered in the United States, the company began in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant operated by the eponymous Richard and Maurice McDonald; in 1948...

 food. The film documents this lifestyle's drastic effect on Spurlock's physical and psychological
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 well-being, and explores the fast food industry's corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition
Nutrition
Nutrition is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet....

 for its own profit.

Spurlock dined at McDonald's restaurants three times per day, eating every item on the chain's menu.
Encyclopedia
Super Size Me is a 2004 American documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Valentine Spurlock is an American documentary filmmaker, humorist, television producer, screenwriter and journalist best known for the documentary film Super Size Me...

, an American independent filmmaker. Spurlock's film follows a 30-day period from February 1 to March 2, 2003 during which he eats only McDonald's
McDonald's
McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 64 million customers daily in 119 countries. Headquartered in the United States, the company began in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant operated by the eponymous Richard and Maurice McDonald; in 1948...

 food. The film documents this lifestyle's drastic effect on Spurlock's physical and psychological
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 well-being, and explores the fast food industry's corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition
Nutrition
Nutrition is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet....

 for its own profit.

Spurlock dined at McDonald's restaurants three times per day, eating every item on the chain's menu. Spurlock consumed an average of 20.92 megajoules
Joule
The joule ; symbol J) is a derived unit of energy or work in the International System of Units. It is equal to the energy expended in applying a force of one newton through a distance of one metre , or in passing an electric current of one ampere through a resistance of one ohm for one second...

 or 5,000 kcal
Food energy
Food energy is the amount of energy obtained from food that is available through cellular respiration.Food energy is expressed in food calories or kilojoules...

 (the equivalent of 9.26 Big Mac
Big Mac
The Big Mac is a hamburger sold by McDonald's, an international fast food restaurant chain. It is one of the company's signature products...

s) per day during the experiment.

As a result, the then-32-year-old Spurlock gained 24½ lbs. (11.1 kg), a 13% body mass increase, a cholesterol
Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

 level of 230, and experienced mood swing
Mood swing
-Associated disorders:Mood swings are commonly associated with mood disorders including bipolar disorder and depression. In patients with cases of bipolar disorder, the patient experiences serious mood swings that last for days or even weeks...

s, sexual dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction or sexual malfunction refers to a difficulty experienced by an individual or a couple during any stage of a normal sexual activity, including desire, arousal or orgasm....

, and fat accumulation in his liver. It took Spurlock fourteen months to lose the weight gained from his experiment using a vegan diet supervised by his future wife, a chef who specializes in gourmet vegan dishes.

The reason for Spurlock's investigation was the increasing spread of obesity
Obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

 throughout U.S. society, which the Surgeon General
Surgeon General of the United States
The Surgeon General of the United States is the operational head of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and thus the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government...

 has declared "epidemic," and the corresponding lawsuit
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

 brought against McDonald's on behalf of two overweight girls, who, it was alleged, became obese as a result of eating McDonald's food [Pelman v. McDonald's Corp., 237 F. Supp. 2d 512]. Spurlock points out that although the lawsuit against McDonald's failed (and subsequently many state legislatures have legislated against product liability actions against producers and distributors of "fast food"), much of the same criticism leveled against the tobacco companies
Tobacco industry
The tobacco industry comprises those persons and companies engaged in the growth, preparation for sale, shipment, advertisement, and distribution of tobacco and tobacco-related products. It is a global industry; tobacco can grow in any warm, moist environment, which means it can be farmed on all...

 applies to fast food franchises whose product is both physiologically addictive and physically harmful.

The documentary was nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature
Academy Award for Documentary Feature
The Academy Award for Documentary Feature is among the most prestigious awards for documentary films.- Winners and nominees:Following the Academy's practice, films are listed below by the award year...

.

A comic book related to the movie has been made with Dark Horse as the publisher. It contains stories about various cases of fast food health scares.

Content

As the film begins, Spurlock is in physically above average shape according to his personal trainer. He is seen by three doctors (a cardiologist, a gastroenterologist, and a general practitioner
General practitioner
A general practitioner is a medical practitioner who treats acute and chronic illnesses and provides preventive care and health education for all ages and both sexes. They have particular skills in treating people with multiple health issues and comorbidities...

), as well as a nutritionist
Nutritionist
A nutritionist is a person who advises on matters of food and nutrition impacts on health. Different professional terms are used in different countries, employment settings and contexts — some examples include: nutrition scientist, public health nutritionist, dietitian-nutritionist, clinical...

 and a personal trainer
Personal trainer
A personal trainer is a fitness professional involved in exercise prescription and instruction. They motivate clients by setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients. Trainers also measure their client's strengths and weaknesses with fitness assessments...

. All of the health professionals predict the "McDiet" will have unwelcome effects on his body, but none expected anything too drastic, one citing the human body
Human body
The human body is the entire structure of a human organism, and consists of a head, neck, torso, two arms and two legs.By the time the human reaches adulthood, the body consists of close to 100 trillion cells, the basic unit of life...

 as being "extremely adaptable." Prior to the experiment, Spurlock ate a varied diet but always had vegan evening meals to appease his then-girlfriend (now wife), Alexandra, a vegan chef
Chef
A chef is a person who cooks professionally for other people. Although over time the term has come to describe any person who cooks for a living, traditionally it refers to a highly skilled professional who is proficient in all aspects of food preparation.-Etymology:The word "chef" is borrowed ...

. At the beginning of the experiment, Spurlock, who stood 6 feet 2 inches (188 cm) tall, had a body weight of 185.5 lbs
Pound (mass)
The pound or pound-mass is a unit of mass used in the Imperial, United States customary and other systems of measurement...

 (84 kg
Kilogram
The kilogram or kilogramme , also known as the kilo, is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units and is defined as being equal to the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram , which is almost exactly equal to the mass of one liter of water...

).

Experiment

Spurlock has specific rules governing his eating habits:
  • He must fully eat three McDonald's meals per day: breakfast
    Breakfast
    Breakfast is the first meal taken after rising from a night's sleep, most often eaten in the early morning before undertaking the day's work...

    , lunch, and dinner
    Dinner
    Dinner is usually the name of the main meal of the day. Depending upon culture, dinner may be the second, third or fourth meal of the day. Originally, though, it referred to the first meal of the day, eaten around noon, and is still occasionally used for a noontime meal, if it is a large or main...

    .
  • He must consume every item on the McDonald's menu at least once over the course of the 30 days (he managed this in nine days).
  • He must only ingest items that are offered on the McDonald's menu, including bottled water
    Bottled water
    Bottled water is drinking water packaged in plastic or glass water bottles. Bottled water may be carbonated or not...

    . All outside consumption of food is prohibited.
  • He must Super Size the meal when offered, but only when offered (i.e., he is not able to Super Size by his own accord).
  • He will attempt to walk about as much as a typical U.S citizen, based on a suggested figure of 5,000 standardized distance steps per day, but he did not closely adhere to this, as he walked more while in New York than Houston.


On February 1, Spurlock starts the month with breakfast near his home in Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

, where there is an average of four McDonald's locations (and 66,950 residents, with twice as many commuters) per square mile (2.6 km²). He aims to keep the distances he walks in line with the 5,000 steps (approximately two miles) walked per day by the average American.

Day 2 brings Spurlock's first Super Size meal, at the McDonald's on 34th Street and Tenth Avenue, which happens to be a meal made of a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese
Quarter Pounder
The Quarter Pounder is a hamburger product sold by international fast food chain McDonald's, originally containing a patty with a precooked weight of a quarter of a pound .-History:...

, Super Size French fries, and a 42 ounce Coke, which takes 22 minutes to eat. He experiences steadily increasing stomach discomfort during the process, and promptly vomits in the McDonald's parking lot.

After five days Spurlock has gained 9.5 pounds (4.5 kg) (from 185.5 to about 195 pounds). It is not long before he finds himself experiencing depression
Depression (mood)
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless...

, and he claims that his bouts of depression, lethargy, and headache
Headache
A headache or cephalalgia is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck. The brain tissue itself is not sensitive to pain because it lacks pain receptors. Rather, the pain is caused by disturbance of the...

s could be relieved by eating a McDonald's meal. His general practitioner describes him as being "addicted". At his second weigh-in, he had gained another 8 pounds (3.5 kg), putting his weight at 203.5 lb (92 kg). By the end of the month he weighs about 210 pounds (95.5 kg), an increase of about 24.5 pounds (about 11 kg). Because he could only eat McDonald's food for a month, Spurlock refused to take any medication at all. At one weigh-in Morgan lost 1 lb. from the previous weigh-in, and a nutritionist hypothesized that he had lost muscle mass, which weighs more than an identical volume of fat. At another weigh-in, a nutritionist said that he gained 17 pounds (8.5 kg) in 12 days.

Spurlock's girlfriend, Alexandra Jamieson, attests to the fact that Spurlock lost much of his energy and sex drive
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

 during his experiment. It was not clear at the time whether or not Spurlock would be able to complete the full month of the high-fat, high-carbohydrate
Carbohydrate
A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

 diet, and family and friends began to express concern.

On Day 21, Spurlock has heart
Heart
The heart is a myogenic muscular organ found in all animals with a circulatory system , that is responsible for pumping blood throughout the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions...

 palpitation
Palpitation
A palpitation is an abnormality of heartbeat that causes a conscious awareness of its beating, whether it is too slow, too fast, irregular, or at its normal frequency. The word may also refer to this sensation itself...

s. His internist, Dr. Daryl Isaacs, advises him to stop what he is doing immediately to avoid any serious health problems. He compares Spurlock with the protagonist played by Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage is an American actor, producer and director, having appeared in over 60 films including Raising Arizona , The Rock , Face/Off , Gone in 60 Seconds , Adaptation , National Treasure , Ghost Rider , Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans , and...

 in the movie Leaving Las Vegas
Leaving Las Vegas
Leaving Las Vegas is a 1995 romantic drama film directed and written by Mike Figgis, based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by John O'Brien. Nicolas Cage stars as a suicidal alcoholic who has ended his personal and professional life to drink himself to death in Las Vegas...

, who intentionally drinks himself to death in a matter of weeks. Despite this warning, Spurlock decides to continue the experiment.

On March 2, Spurlock makes it to day 30 and achieves his goal. In thirty days, he "Supersized" his meals nine times along the way (five of which were in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, three in New York City). His doctors are surprised at the degree of deterioration in Spurlock's health. He notes that he has eaten as many McDonald's meals as most nutritionists say the ordinary person should eat in 8 years (he ate 90 meals, which is close to the amount of meals consumed once a month in an 8-year period).

Findings

An end text states that it took Spurlock 5 months to lose 20.1 pounds (9 kg) and another 9 months to lose the last 4.5 pounds (2 kg). His girlfriend Alexandra, now his wife, began supervising his recovery with her "detox diet," which became the basis for her book, The Great American Detox Diet.

The movie ends with a rhetorical question
Rhetorical question
A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply. Rhetorical questions encourage the listener to think about what the answer to the question must be. When a speaker states, "How much longer must our people...

, "Who do you want to see go first, you or them?" This is accompanied by a cartoon tombstone, which reads "Ronald McDonald (1954-2012)", which originally appeared in The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

in an article addressing the ethics of marketing to children.

A short epilogue was added to the film. Although it showed that the salads can contain even more calories than burgers, if the customer adds liberal amounts of cheese and dressing prior to consumption, it also described McDonald's discontinuation of the Super Size option six weeks after the movie's premiere, as well as its recent emphasis on healthier menu items such as salads, and the release of the new adult Happy Meal
Happy Meal
A "Happy Meal" is a meal specifically marketed at children, sold at the fast-food chain McDonald's since June 1979. A toy is typically included with the food, both of which are usually contained in a small box or paper bag with the McDonald's logo....

. However, McDonald's claimed that these changes had nothing to do with the film.

Reaction

Super Size Me first premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, where Morgan Spurlock won the Grand Jury Prize for directing the film. The film opened in the U.S. on May 7, 2004, and grossed a total of $20,641,054 worldwide, making it the 12th highest-grossing documentary film of all time. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary
Academy Award for Documentary Feature
The Academy Award for Documentary Feature is among the most prestigious awards for documentary films.- Winners and nominees:Following the Academy's practice, films are listed below by the award year...

 but lost to the film Born into Brothels
Born into Brothels
Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids is a 2004 American documentary film about the children of prostitutes in Sonagachi, Kolkata's red light district...

.
Super Size Me received two thumbs up on At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper. The film overall received positive reviews from other critics, as well as movie-goers, and holds a 93% "Certified Fresh" rating on the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

.

Criticism and statistical notes

Critics of the film, including McDonald's, argue that the author intentionally consumed an average of 5,000 calories per day and did not exercise, and that the results would have been the same regardless of the source of overeating. He was eating solely McDonald's food in keeping with the terms of a potential judgment against McDonald's in court documents highlighted at the beginning of the film.

However, in the comedic documentary reply Fat Head
Fat Head (documentary)
Fat Head is a 2009 American documentary film directed by and starring Tom Naughton. The film seeks to refute both the documentary SuperSize Me, a Sundance Film Festival award-winning film, and the lipid hypothesis, a bedrock of nutritional science for decades in the United States and much of the...

, Tom Naughton "suggests that Spurlock's calorie and fat counts don't add up" and criticizes Spurlock's refusal to publish the Super Size Me food log; The Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
The Houston Chronicle is the largest daily newspaper in Texas, USA, headquartered in the Houston Chronicle Building in Downtown Houston. , it is the ninth-largest newspaper by circulation in the United States...

reports: "Unlike Spurlock, Naughton has a page on his Web site that lists every item (including nutritional information) he ate during his fast-food month."
The film addresses such objections by highlighting that a part of the reason for Spurlock's deteriorating health was not just the high calorie intake but also the high quantity of sugar relative to vitamins and minerals in the McDonald's menu, which is similar in that regard to the nutritional content of the menus of most other U.S. fast-food chains.
About 1/3 of Spurlock's calories came from sugar. His nutritionist, Bridget Bennett RD, cited him about his excess intake of sugar from "milkshakes and cokes". It is revealed toward the end of the movie that over the course of the diet, he consumed "over 30 pounds of sugar, and over 12 lbs. of fat from their food." The nutritional side of the diet was not fully explored in the film because of the closure of the clinic which monitored this aspect during the filming of the movie.

Soso Whaley, an independent film producer, made a YouTube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

 movie reply titled Me and Mickey D's, in which she also ate all meals at McDonald's, yet lost weight—20 pounds over 60 days; 30 pounds in 90 days. Whaley's results were quite different because of the reduced calorie diet, and inclusion of exercise. Some of Whaley's requirements for her meals were the same as Spurlock's (had to eat everything on the menu over the course of the experiment, etc.); but some were different (she didn't have to clean the plate—Spurlock required himself to do so). Whaley also documented her meals by saving the receipts. Whaley's film has been criticized by Sourcewatch
SourceWatch
SourceWatch is an internet wiki site that is a collaborative project of the liberal Center for Media and Democracy...

, as before the project began the teaser asked, "Will Eat at McDonald's for 30 Days and Lose Weight?", although the advertising by Spurlock's film said the same thing, but only reversed.

Likewise, fitness advocate Chazz Weaver also created a documentary video of his own 30-day McDonald's diet in response to Spurlock's film. The thrust of Weaver's thesis was an exercise plan. Weaver asserted that without exercise, the fat-laden diet he ate at McDonald's would have resulted in a weight gain. His result was weight loss (222 lbs down to 214 lbs), as well as improved blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Spurlock claimed he was trying to imitate what an average diet for a regular eater at McDonald's—a person who would get little to no exercise—would do to them. Spurlock's intake of 5,000 calories per day was well over twice the recommended daily intake for a sedentary adult male, which would amount to only about 2,300 calories. A typical man consuming as many calories as Spurlock did would gain nearly a pound a day (which is roughly how much Spurlock gained), a rate of weight gain that could not be sustained for long periods. Additionally, Spurlock did not demonstrate or claim that anyone, let alone a substantial number of people, eats at McDonald's three times per day. In fact McDonald's is mentioned during the movie to have two classes of users of their restaurants: There are the "Heavy Users" (about 72% of customers, who eat at their restaurants once or twice a week), and the "SUPER Heavy Users" (about 22% of customers, who eat McDonald's three or more times a week).

Impact

In the United Kingdom, McDonald's placed a brief ad in the trailers of showings of the film, pointing to the website www.supersizeme-thedebate.co.uk. The ads stated, "See what we disagree with. See what we agree with."

The film was the inspiration for the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 television series The Supersizers... in which the presenters dine on historical meals and take medical tests to ascertain the impact on their health.

See also

  • Criticism of fast food
    Criticism of fast food
    Fast food has come under criticism over concerns ranging from claimed negative health effects, alleged animal cruelty, cases of worker exploitation, and claims of cultural degradation via shifts in people's eating patterns away from traditional foods....

  • National Weight Control Registry
    National Weight Control Registry
    The National Weight Control Registry is a research study that includes people who have lost at least 13.6 kg of weight and kept it off for at least one year. There are currently over 10,000 members enrolled in the study, making it perhaps the largest study of weight loss ever conducted...

  • New York State Restaurant Association v. New York City Board of Health
    New York State Restaurant Association v. New York City Board of Health
    New York State Restaurant Association v. New York City Board of Health is a case decided by the Second Circuit United States Court of Appeals. The case arose after New York City passed a law in January 2007 to become the first American city to require restaurant chains to state the number of...


Media and publications

  • Food, Inc.
    Food, Inc.
    Food, Inc. is a 2008 American documentary film directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner. The film examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, in a way that is environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and...

  • Fast Food Nation
    Fast Food Nation
    Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal is a book by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser that examines the local and global influence of the United States fast food industry....

  • Million Calorie March: The Movie
    Million Calorie March: The Movie
    Million Calorie March: The Movie is a 2008 American documentary film directed by, co-produced by and starring Gary Michael Marino, an author, speaker and anti-obesity activist. The film follows Marino as he embarks on a fundraiser and awareness walk, the Million Calorie March, from Jacksonville,...

  • The Omnivore's Dilemma
    The Omnivore's Dilemma
    The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals is a nonfiction book by Michael Pollan published in 2006. In the book, Pollan asks the seemingly straightforward question of what we should have for dinner. As omnivores – the most unselective eaters – we humans are faced with a...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK