What Was Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me About? Documentary Explored Amid Filmmaker's Death

Morgan Spurlock's 2004 documentary, Super Size Me, dramatically exposed the health risks of fast food, prompting significant industry changes and a lasting impact on public nutrition awareness.

Published on May 25, 2024  |  12:58 PM IST |  28.4K
Morgan Spurlock (imdb)
Morgan Spurlock (imdb)

Morgan Spurlock's groundbreaking documentary, Super Size Me, left an indelible mark on the fast food industry and public consciousness about nutrition. Following Spurlock's recent passing, we revisit the film that challenged America's eating habits and spurred significant industry changes.

The Experiment That Shook the Fast Food Industry

Super Size Me, released in 2004, is an American documentary directed by and starring independent filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. The film follows Spurlock's 30-day experiment from February 1 to March 2, 2003, during which he consumed only McDonald's food. He adhered to specific rules: eating three meals a day, consuming every menu item at least once, and super-sizing his meal whenever offered. Spurlock also revealed he was drinking heavily during the experiment.

Throughout the experiment, Spurlock documented drastic changes in his physical and psychological health. He gained 24.5 pounds (11.1 kg), his cholesterol soared to 230 mg/dL, and he experienced mood swings and fat accumulation in his liver. These changes highlighted the severe health risks of a high-calorie, fast-food diet, sparking debates about the industry's role in promoting poor nutrition for profit.

The Film's Production and Impact

Directed, written, and produced by Morgan Spurlock, Super Size Me features Alexandra Jamieson and cinematography by Scott Ambrozy. The film premiered on May 7, 2004, with a modest budget of $65,000 but grossed $22.2 million worldwide. It received critical acclaim, earning a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and winning the Writers Guild of America's Best Documentary Screenplay.

Spurlock's diet involved consuming an average of 5,000 calories daily, walking about 2 kilometers (1.5 miles) each day. Despite medical professionals' predictions of unwelcome effects, the severity of Spurlock's health deterioration surprised even them. His then-girlfriend, Alexandra Jamieson, helped him recover with a vegan detox diet, which she later detailed in her book, The Great American Detox Diet.

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Broader Implications and Legacy

The film's release led to increased scrutiny of fast food, prompting changes in the industry. McDonald's eliminated the "super size" option and introduced healthier menu items, although the company denied these changes were due to the film. Super Size Me also spurred public discourse on corporate responsibility and personal health.

Spurlock's work continued to influence food-related documentaries and public awareness about nutrition. His sequel, Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!, released in 2017, further explored these themes. The film's success underscored its message's enduring relevance, as it remains a critical reference point in discussions about diet and health.

Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me remains a seminal work in documentary filmmaking, shedding light on the fast food industry's impact on health. Spurlock's daring experiment and its documented effects brought significant attention to nutritional issues, influencing public behavior and industry practices. His passing marks the loss of a key figure in the movement towards healthier eating and corporate accountability.

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