Super Size Me

By Laura Gatewood,

“Super Size Me” shoots an arrow directly at the conscience of a nation obsessed with food, weight, and health. Morgan Spurlock, the documentary’s writer and director, transforms what could have been a weak gimmick into a forceful, yet humorous attack on the power of fast food, or bad-for-you food, in the U.S.
Spurlock uses McDonald’s, the most universally visible and prolific chain in the world, as the set for his exploration of the inverse value system that American society has regarding economy of eating versus health. 
Last year the Surgeon General came out against obesity, labeling it the new epidemic sweeping across the nation, ranking the problem as a leading cause of death together with smoking. Shortly thereafter, two obese teenaged girls sued McDonald’s for making their figures so large, testifying that the food pre-disposed them to gaining weight.
Spurlock takes this lawsuit as incentive to build a film around the true effects of fast food on the body, and the results are compelling, while at the same time proving a point that everyone already knows. He vows to eat every meal for thirty straight days at McDonalds; the rules being that he can only Super-Size and must when asked by the attendant, and must eat everything on the menu at least once during his McDiet. The control in his experiment is the food and the variable his health. To empirically back up his plan, he goes for pre-diet medical and fitness exams, and continues to monitor his physical changes very week for four weeks. What he finds is awesome evidence against the fast-food industry. Sure, not everyone eats at McDonald’s or any other fast-food joint for every meal, but according to the film, U.S. population has been found to eat out forty percent of the time, and you can bet most are not going to five-star restaurants. Spurlock goes to the extreme to prove, which he does quite well, that fast-food, even the so-called healthy choices of salads or fruit parfaits, is the easiest road to take to obesity.
The underlying irony of Spurlock’s documentary is that while our culture is obsessed with getting its bodies smaller, it is equally as concerned with increasing portion sizes in every fast-food joint in the nation. The struggle to maintain a happy, healthy body becomes a Sisyphysean task for the average American eater.
The movie presents the unfolding of Spurlock’s saga with self-deprecating humor, even venturing to shoot Spurlock vomiting after his first time with the Super-Size portions. But it is never less than pointed, effectually showing what the common McDonald’s eater is really putting into his body every time a BigMac or nine-piece Chicken McNuggets is consumed. Any nutrients a French fry once had as a potato are overwhelmed by the sodium, fat, and sugar added before its ingestion. 
At the end of his McDiet, Spurlock is twenty-five pounds heavier, with sky-high cholesterol and blood pressure, low libido, and mood swings that rival a post-partum mother. The bottom line is that Americans have the choice to eat fast-food, but it isn’t made any easier with the seductive and comforting advertisements placed on every television channel and millions of billboards around the country. It would be a safe bet, though, that for anyone who sees “Super Size Me,” the choice to refuse to buy into the fast-food chain is going to be a lot easier.