Film “Supersize Me” by Morgan Spurlock

Supersize Me (Spurlock, 2004) is a documentary starring Morgan Spurlock, incidentally Spurlock directed this documentary as well. This documentary trails Spurlock as he endeavors to eat only McDonalds food for thirty days. Spurlock eats everything on McDonald’s menu at least once. He decided to do this experiment to prove the changes that can occur to our bodies when we eat unhealthily, and that obesity is spreading, and the fast food companies don’t or won’t do something to fix it. This movie was made almost two decades ago and all we need to do is look at the obesity crisis we are dealing with today; the epidemic is so much worse. Not only were Spurlock’s findings true but now have brought forth change to our society where fast food is concerned. We have the nutritious labels more readily available everywhere now in part because of the experiments like Morgan Spurlock has conducted.
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Spurlock is a very fit and healthy man as this story begins. He consults with many professionals before beginning his experiment. At the beginning of the experiment, Spurlock weighed in at 185 lbs. and had a height of 6’2. There were a few rules that Spurlock had to follow whilst he performed this experiment; He could get exercise by walking approximately 5000 steps per day. (He couldn’t observe this as well as he thought he might). Everything he had to eat had to be from McDonalds. He could not consume anything else from any other source. He could ‘super-size” what he was ordering, but only when the person at McDonalds offered it to him first.
Fascinatingly, Spurlock’s doctors and professionals did not think that eating at McDonalds for 30 days rigorously would affect his body to the degree that it did. At the end of the experiment, Spurlock had gained about 20 pounds and had many other side effects. He had a loss of energy, he was tired all the time, he felt depressed. He became addicted to the food. This addiction to the fast food caused heart palpitations toward the end of the experiment. Spurlock’s doctor plead with him to stop the diet and to get back on to a healthier and more nutritious diet. Though it was hard for him to do, he kept going on. At the end of the experiment, the professionals realized that Spurlock had deteriorated much worse than they had predicted that he would.
I chose to do my research project on this because I feel that our world truly has far to go to help its citizens become healthier. If we look at the days of yore, we realize that farmers and hard-working individuals who lived in America didn’t have to deal with these sorts of issues. They ate a good, hearty meal but they also worked a good, hearty day. Individuals slaved over a farm or garden or whatever work they needed to do to provide for their families. My point being that they didn’t sit around being sedentary. They were moving and moving and moving, working their fingers to the literal bones sometimes.
My question is what has shifted in our ideologies from then until now? The shift has been happening more and more since the 1970s as technology has increased. Because of this processed food became more of an everyday, thing within our lives. Since then the problem with processed foods has become perpetually worse. The problem is technology. Technology is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. It is good because we have so many things in our world that allow us to keep ourselves living longer lives, the problem is that we also have technology that gives our food additives that allow it to stay ‘usable” for longer times. (Mercola, 2015). Yes, we can make our beef stay utilizable but should we, is the real question, and at what cost? We can see that one cost is our health and whether or not we are overweight.
Spurlock did not have any background in nutrition that I could find. However, he didn’t go about this experiment blindly. As I have stated in this research paper, he talked to many professionals who helped him make this experiment what it was. He spoke to a cardiologist and a gastroenterologist, and a GP (general practitioner), he also spoke to his personal trainer and also to a nutritionist. Spurlock really did his research on this subject.
The themes of this documentary are very applicable to today. Though Supersize Me (Spurlock,2004) was made in the early 2000s, the results are still thought of today. America is in a crisis regarding obesity at this time. Food is so easily accessible, and it shows. We can drive less than a mile here in Salt Lake City and are able to at least find one fast food restaurant to appease our hunger ‘needs”. It is truly sad that we as Americans can’t see the problems that come from this. We don’t see that while additives and preservatives have a purpose, they are so wildly used, and it affects our health.
Spurlock used approximately 5000 kcals per day whilst using the ‘McDiet”. Our book has told us that men should eat 2200-3000 calories per day, women should eat 1800-2400 calories per day. If a man would like to lose 1 pound per week, he should lower his intake to 1500 calories per day. (Wardlaw, 2015) Spurlock ingested coming close to double what a man should be ingesting per day. That will obviously cause bad effects on a person’s health.
Though Spurlock could walk somewhat on the ‘McDiet”, his output wasn’t nearly what is needed and what we have learned about in the book, Wardlaw’s Contemporary Nutrition. I don’t think that he would have had some of the problems Spurlock had if he would have put more exercise into his daily routine during the time that he was eating so much fast food. Had he done aerobics or played basketball or anything, the number of calories he would have burned may have been enough to help him not gain as much weight as he did during those 30 days. (Wardlaw, 2015)
It is much harder to lose the weight as it is to put the weight on. It took Spurlock many months to lose the close to 20 pounds he gained while on the ‘McDiet”. If we keep a healthy diet and increase our exercising, we can keep the weight off, It does take some time if we are not where we want to be, but if we continue eating and being more active, we will be able to reach our goals. (Wardlaw, 2015).
After finishing this assignment, I have realized that my food intake must be more purposeful. I am in my forties now and my ability to keep the weight off has been greatly diminished due to my age. I have less of a metabolism which means that I have to really think about what I am putting into my body. I am truly disgusted by what I have been eating at fast food restaurants. It doesn’t have to be McDonalds; all fast food restaurants have similar problems. I will be incorporating these ideas in to my life. I know that I want to be around for a long time and the only way for me to make that possible is for me to eat more nutritiously and exercise more.
Exercising is my bane. I really need to learn that aerobics are my friend and so is keeping myself from being sedentary. I want to be as the people of yore who worked for their food and were able to eat more nutritiously.
I need to de-stress my life in order to be more able to not eat the fast foods of the world. Yes, it is easy, but is it worth it? I say ‘no” especially after researching this subject.
Mercola, Joseph. ‘The Perpetual Life of Processed Foods “ Yay or Nay?” Dr. Joseph Mercola on Natural Health Products and Articles, Dr. Mercola, 24 June 2015,
Wardlaw, Gordon M., et al. Contemporary Nutrition: a Functional Approach. 5th ed., McGraw-Hill Education, 2015. Pgs 250-255

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