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corporate dominance | health

Documentary records horrifying effects of eating only McDonald's "food" for one month

Documentary filmmaker uses himself as guinea pig and eats only McDonald's for one month. This one should be copied and plastered around schools and the ever -expanding...'burbs.
Film records effects of eating only McDonald's for a month

25.01.2004 12.00pm - By DAVID USBORNE
NEW YORK - Normally sane actors have been known to gain or lose huge amounts of weight for their art. Think of Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary. Directors, of course, never have to undergo such torture. Or so it used to be, until Morgan Spurlock had a bright idea for a film project.

The first clue to his particular misery comes in the title of his documentary, which has become the darling of this year's Sundance Film Festival. It is called Super Size Me: A Film of Epic Portions and it is a sometimes comic but serious look at America's addiction to fast food.

Spurlock, a tall New Yorker of usually cast-iron constitution, made himself the guinea pig in this dogged investigation into the effects of fast food on the body. He ate only at McDonald's for a month - three meals, every day - and took a camera crew along to record it. If a server offered to super-size his order, he was obliged to accept - and to ingest everything, gherkins and all.

Neither Spurlock, 33, nor the three doctors who agreed to monitor his health during the experiment were prepared for the degree of ruin it would wreak on his body. Within days, he was vomiting up his burgers and battling with headaches and depression. And his sex drive vanished.

When Spurlock had finished, his liver, overwhelmed by saturated fats, had virtually turned to pate. "The liver test was the most shocking thing," said Dr Daryl Isaacs, who joined the team to watch over him. "It became very, very abnormal."

Spurlock put on nearly 12kg over the period and his cholesterol level leapt from a respectable 165 to 230. He told the New York Post: "I got desperately ill. My face was splotchy and I had this huge gut, which I've never had in my life ... It was amazing - and really frightening." And his girlfriend, a vegan chef? "She was completely disgusted by me," he said.

Making the film over several months last year, Spurlock travelled through 20 states, interviewing everyone from fast-food junkies to the US Surgeon General and a lobbyist for the industry. McDonald's, for whom the film can only be a public relations catastrophe, ignored his repeated entreaties for comment.

Spurlock had the idea for the film on Thanksgiving Day 2002, slumped on his mother's couch after eating far too much. He saw a news item about two teenage girls in New York suing McDonald's for making them obese. The company responded by saying their food was nutritious and good for people. Is that so, he wondered? To find out, he committed himself to his 30 days of Big Mac bingeing.

The film does not yet have a distributor and, given the advertising clout of McDonald's, that may prove problematic. But the critics at Sundance seem to have been captivated. Certainly, the film is blessed by good timing. Obesity has in recent months captured headlines as America's new health scourge. The humour of the approach - and Spurlock's own suffering - obviously helps.

At the festival in Park City, Utah, he has had teams handing out "Unhappy Meal" bags on the streets with a few "Fat Fun Facts". For instance, one in four Americans visits a fast-food restaurant every day. And did you know that McDonald's feeds more people around the world every day than the population of Spain? The makers have self-rated the film "F" - for "fat audiences".

McDonald's has finally been forced to comment. "Consumers can achieve balance in their daily dining decisions by choosing from our array of quality offerings and range of portion sizes to meet their taste and nutrition goals," it said in a statement last week.

Spurlock claims that the goal was not to attack McDonald's as such. Among the issues he highlights is the willingness of schools to feed students nothing but burgers and pizza. "If there's one thing we could accomplish with the film, it is that we make people think about what they put in their mouth," he said. "So the next time you do go into a fast-food restaurant and they say, 'Would you like to upsize that?' you think about it and say, 'Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll stick with the medium this time.'"
Please spread this far and "wide" 25.Jan.2004 19:40


If you want to be even more horrified, just consider that what most schools serve is not just as unhealthy as McDonald's, but of even lower quality. I think the only institutions below public schools on the "food chain" are prisons. And there is a difference...isn't there? Kind of??

When can we see this movie in Portland? 25.Jan.2004 21:04

Red Suspenders

That guy is brave! Wish I had balls half that big. Seriously, though, I hope he didn't permenantly damage his body.
However you feel about the politics of McDogfoods and thier corporate behavior it's pretty undeniable that they cause tremendous financial burden to our health care system. My feeling is that healthy people come in all shapes and sizes, and even some folks classified as "obese" are healthy, productive and attractive. And jogging wrecks your knees and shortens your life due to increased risk of being hit by a car. So let it be known even though I stay healthy due to bicycle commuting I'm no rice-cake eating exersise freak. However what passes for "fast food" is a poor grade of fat and protien, and a little bleached into submission flour, and perhaps worst of all pounds of refined sugar. If I have five sugar cubes with my tea it's less than half a 12 ounce soda- In case you havent noticed, soda pop is cheap, and fast food chains usually serve it up in the supertanker size. This is a disaster for your liver and kidneys etc. People your body is not a garbage dump! Anyways, like our cheap oil costing us lower Manhattan, and causing everyones insurance to go up, we all pay for this crap "food" in our higher medical insurance bills. Not to mention having to smell some really stinky people on the bus.

At least the ciggarette companies wait until kids are 11 or 12 to go after them. McDogfoods targets four year olds. Any good works of charity done by this corporation is vastly outweighed by the destruction of our collective health. And the fact that this stuff has been invaded public schools is infuriating.

Two years ago I was involved in an effort to block a McDogfoods from opening in my neighborhood. Cries of "Nimby" and "Snob" came from all directions. So I say to you, fight this monster where ever it rears it's ugly head. Anyone disses you for it? Tell 'em I'm trying to defend my country here.

Nimby! Elitest! 25.Jan.2004 21:56

Yer Brother

Hello Red Suspenders,


You all just didn't want a bunch of Normal, White, Hetrosexual, Fat People showing up on Hawthorne.

People chose to eat at McDonalds.... just like they chose to drink or smoke. It'd be nice if they'd
clamp down on the advertising to minors a little... I'd like to see a "gentleman's" agreement (is that PC enough for this crowd?) to lay off agressively marketing kids for any commercial products.

Better education to help people make good food choices would be good. But pick your battles... there's enough
real stuff to get upset about.

I'll say it again: NIMBY! ELITIST!

Yer Own Freakin Brother.

People don't choose McDonalds 26.Jan.2004 00:02

fast food addiction

The poster above feels people "choose" McDonalds fast food, this oversimplifies the issue of class and addiction..

The class aspect deals with ultra-cheap fast food found in low income neighborhoods. The cheapness is a result of government subsidies and massive amounts of former rainforest cattle..

The addiction process is result of the biochemical reaction felt after ingesting saturated fat in beef and the rush from refinded sugar in soda..

PREVIOUSLY POSTED 26.Jan.2004 00:12


Wow, this article made me gag 26.Jan.2004 00:46


Oh, just thinking of that McDonalds smell, the taste of thier burgers and fries. I'm literally gagging just thinking about it.

I'll stop here before I ponder thier chicken paste nuggets a second longer.

mcdonalds advertising is propaganda 26.Jan.2004 08:41


If I see an ad from Burger King "Have it your way" or Wendy's that shows their product and asks me to buy it, then deciding whether to purchase that product or not is my free choice.

When McDonald's shows the curly red-haired antichrist in his yellow overalls zooming along on his skateboard with tags that read "How's my driving?" and executes various impossible athletic maneuvers with a group of slim, healthy, athletic children cheering him on, that is NOT selling a product. They don't even show the burgers or fries! THAT is propaganda at its slimiest and it targets children, making them think McDonald's is some sort of fun station where happy athletic kids go to have fun.

geeze 26.Jan.2004 08:49

Former Portlander

Don't you think if you ate ANYTHING three times a day for a month you'd start puking?
I didn't know cattle grazed in rainforests. (re: above poster)
I eat McDonalds at least twice a week and I love it. The main reason is yes, because it's cheap (2 burgers, sm fry, water = $3).
I don't feel bad (mentally or physically) about it and to counter the other fat and calorie drenched food that I eat, organic or fast food, I exercise. Anyway, great idea for a documentary. Moderation people, too much of most anything isn't a good idea.

All this and big boobs too 26.Jan.2004 09:17

I shit you not

A friend of mine grew up in a "McDonald's family"- his grandfather owned many "restaurants" as did his mother. The whole family ate Mc Death constantly. Due to the massive amounts of hormones in the "meat", my friend's mother's and sister's breasts grew really large. This is not a joke,folks- his mother has had THREE BREAST REDUCTION surgeries. Honest to God true story, people.

The reason why one might feel badly 26.Jan.2004 10:22


about McDonald's is their factory farmed misery meat. Those cows and chicken suffer from birth until they're forced to go through the slaughterhouse. Go see PETA's Meet Your Meat (free download). That's McDonald's. The cows don't live in the rainforest as it was. The rainforest is razed to provide more land for the cows.

and don't forget 26.Jan.2004 11:22

do you want to know what it is?

the meatrix

yes, big boobs and early periods 26.Jan.2004 11:30


Thanks to an infusion of hormones (like BGH and BST) women will ineed have larger breasts and girls as young as 3 are starting their periods. Remember that poisons in moderation are still poisons and anyone eating the kind of chemicals and filler present in McDonald's food is just buying themselves a greatly increased risk of cancer. And is the price really worth it for your health, as well as the health of the planet?

It's true, cows don't graze in rainforests 26.Jan.2004 11:55

hah a

First, they burn a large section of rainforest to the ground. Next, they bring in thier cows.

precision is golden (re: cows and rainforests) 26.Jan.2004 14:07

Orlando Furioso

Brazil is the biggest or close to the biggest soya exporter in the world, in addition to corn and other grains. Most of this is turned into livestock feed (for McD hamburgers, et al.). Most of the land on which the vast, corporate agroindustrial combines grow these grains was recently forested (ie, in the last 50 years). Thus, McD (and all other) corporate hamburger joints can be said to be "rainforest meat," even if, as McDonald's tirelessly reassures us, the cows themselves are not pastured in recently burnt rainforests, which in McD's case appears to be true.

ew 26.Jan.2004 23:22


ew. Thats so gross. Where can we see this film! Sounds great! (If you ignore the whole eating at McCrap part) And to the person who eats there at least twice a week? You just made me gag on my tofu. Literally.

I smell an agenda here 28.Jan.2004 10:00


This sounds to me like a Michael Moore-esque hatchet job "documentary". Choose an easy target like McDonalds and "prove" your theory that the food will kill you. Definitely and anti fast food agenda here. I don't beleive for a second that eating 3 m3als a day at Mickey D's for a month will kill you. Its not the healthiest food around- granted. But its not toxic or lethal. Give me a break. I have to call Bullshit on this one.

Perhaps, but... 28.Jan.2004 12:45


McNuggets taste gooooooooooood.

Of course there's an agenda -- and that doesn't make the results any less valid. 28.Jan.2004 12:49


In addition to the guy wanting to be a famous film maker,

I believe the "agenda" is to help put more nails in the coffins of the companies who would
would happily destroy US and our children for another $1 of profit.

How do you think this guys test results would have turned out if he had ate 3 meals
a day of rice, vegetables & water?

Do you think fast food chains don't know how unhealthy their products are for people?

Maybe you should prove to the world that the results of this documentry are fake and biased
and conduct the study yourself.... :)

Dumb People Make Dumb Decesions 06.Feb.2004 05:59

Mike A.

I understand the idea of doing documentary such as this. Yes, this opens the eyes of the narrow minded, which makes up the majority of people around the world that are "biggy sizing" and "over-ordering". This establishes the fact that if you do eat three "biggy sized" meals at Mcdonald's daily you will become obese and will eventually have health threatening risks in you life. I eat fat food on occasion, but not everyday and not more than once a day ever! My question to anyone who does is "who are these idiots?" If you are doing this to yourself, then you deserve anything and everything that is coming your way. Anyone with half a brain knows fast food is high in fat and carbs, which is going to result in multiple "jelly rolls" of fat for the genius who consumes it for multiple meals on a daily basis. GOOD JOB WAKING THE MORRONS UP FROM THEIR COMA. If you didn't all ready know, then you will never know, your stupid! Your obese for a reason, you eat crap all day every day!

Who is calling who dumb? 10.Feb.2004 19:43


Hey Mike, regarding your sentence at the end of your comment, "If you didn't all ready know, then you will never know, your stupid! ".
"all ready" should be "already" and "your stupid" should be "you're stupid"