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Super Size Me: A Case Study

WELCOME TO AMERICA

distance_to_mcdonalds_l

Image Courtesy of: (Data Pointed)

Would you like to super size that?

This map of the United States is lit according to visual distance to the nearest McDonald’s. Have we got your attention yet?

Welcome to our blog! This blog was designed by Team English Flyers at Bridgewater State University. It contains information on the 2004 documentary by Morgan Spurlock called Super Size Me and the effect it had on the fast food industry.

In the upper right corner you will find links to various social media sites. If you click on Facebook it will take you to the official Super Size Me Facebook page. If you click on Twitter it will take you to the official Morgan Spurlock Twitter account. Lastly, if you click on YouTube it will take you to the official trailer for the film.

All posts are in order according what you need to know:

  1. What the documentary is.
  2. Who Morgan Spurlock is.
  3. Why is Obesity a problem?
  4. How the documentary addressed the issue of obesity.
  5. How Super Size Me effected the fast food industry.
  6. What changed?
  7. Entire works cited

Feel free to visit our About page for more information!

Thank you for visiting!

Super Size Me: The Documentary That Started It All

Super Size Me in Seven Minutes.

What the heck did I just watch? Well let’s start at the beginning:

In 2002 in New York, two teenage girls sued McDonald’s for knowingly selling them unhealthy food that ultimately caused their obesity. One of the girls was 14 years old, four feet, ten inches tall and weighed 170 pounds. The other girl was 19 years old, five feet, five inches tall, and weighed 264 pounds.  Several courts stated that the claimants would have a case if they could prove that eating McDonald’s food everyday is dangerous to the human body. In response to these claims, director and filmmaker Morgan Spurlock created a documentary called Super Size Me. Using his own body, he conducted an experiment in order to discover just how dangerous eating McDonald’s food can be to the average person’s health.

The rules of the experiment:

  • Only eat food sold at McDonald’s for thirty days
  • Must eat 3 meals a day
  • Order every item on the menu at least once by the end of the thirty days
  • If asked to supersize his meal he has to say yes

Becoming Average

super-size-me-1-morgan-spurlock

Image Courtesy of: (Cooking With Movies)

Spurlock wanted to make the experiment as safe and as official as possible by documenting his health status throughout the thirty days. Therefore, before even starting the experiment he went to three doctors, a general practitioner, a cardiologist and a gastroenterologist all of which concluded that his health was above the national average. He continued to see these doctors throughout the experiment and he periodically consulted with an exercise physiologist and a dietitian.

Since Spurlock discovered that, he was much healthier than the average American he made other changes to his life style to make himself more like the average American. These changes include not exercising for thirty days and limiting himself to 5,000 steps a day. The whopping 2.5 miles the average American walks in one day. This was quite a change for Spurlock because he regularly exercised, and his girlfriend typically only cooked him vegan food because she was a vegan chef. On top of all of the exercise Spurlock also lived in New York City at the time so he walked everywhere he went. To limit himself to 5,000 steps a day was quite the challenge.  During the experiment, he started driving a car or taking a taxi everywhere he went. On top of that, he started using the elevator.

Thus Spurlock was primed and ready to undertake what is perhaps one of the most shocking and cringe-worthy experiments ever undertaken in the fast food industry.

Awards

Below is a list of nominations and awards that the documentary accumulation after its release in 2004:

2004

  •  Nominated by the International Documentary Association for the Pare Lorentz Award
  •  Nominated by the Sundance Film Festival for the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary
  •  Won the New Director’s Award in the Edinburgh International Film Festival
  •  Won the MTV, News: Docs: Prize in the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
  •  Won the NBR Award for Top Five Documentaries from the National Board of Review, USA
  •  Won the Directing Award for Best Documentary in the Sundance Film Festival

2005

  •  Nominated by the Academy Awards, USA for an Oscar for Best Documentary
  •  Nominated by the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for the Critics’ Choice Award for best documentary
  •  Nominated by the Online Film Critics Society Awards for the OFCS Award for Best Documentary
  •  Nominated by the Vancouver Film Critics Circle for the VFCC Award for Best Documentary
  •  Won the Golden Satellite Award for Best Motion Picture, Documentary in the Satellite Awards
  •  Won the Documentary Screenplay Award from the Writers Guild of America, USA

by: Shelby French

Works Cited

Supersize Me. Dir. Morgan Spurlock. Perf. Morgan Spurlock. Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Showtime

                Independent Films, 2004. DVD

Supersize Me in 7 mins: How too much of McDonald’s will make you feel. Perf. Morgan Spurlock.

                YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Morgan Spurlock

spurlock

Image Courtesy of: (The Washington Post)

“My body… officially hates me.”

                                                                       –Morgan Spurlock

Until the documentary Super Size Me, director Morgan Spurlock was still looking for his big break. Graduating from New York University in 1993 with a degree in film, Morgan Spurlock had a rough start to his career. Some of Spurlock’s early jobs included being a production assistant, notably ones such as Leon: The Professional (1994) and Kiss of Death (1995). Spurlock was having trouble making ends meet which led him to become a stand-up comic in California for a short time. His career as a comic didn’t last for long and eventually found himself homeless, finally hitting rock bottom.

Spurlock’s career really started with the TV series I Bet You Will (2002). Spurlock was the producer of this TV series that aired on MTV where random participants were “dared” to do stunts that were generally gross or embarrassing. If the participants were successful in completing their dare, they won a cash prize. With the success of this TV series, Spurlock has finally found a place for himself in the film industry, but it was not until 2003 until Spurlock had an idea that would change the way millions of Americans thought about fast food.

Spurlock was inspired to create a documentary about the true nature of the fast food industry while watching a news broadcast about two teenagers suing McDonald’s for causing them to become overweight. With the money remaining from I Bet You Will’s success, Spurlock his journey into the depths of the fast food fad. For one entire month, Spurlock was only to eat McDonald’s food. In addition to eating at the fast food giant for three meals a day, if any McDonald’s employee asked if he wanted his meal super-sized, Spurlock could not say no.

Spurlock’s documentary was appropriately named Super Size Me and debuted at the 2004 Sundance film festival. The documentary became a wild success in part for its shocking nature and in part for its raw take on the fast food industry. Spurlock’s documentary was nominated for the Grand Jury prize and won for Best Documentary Director at the Sundance film festival the same year of its debut. Since then, Super Size Me has been nominated and has won several other awards including ones such as the Documentary Screenplay Award (won, 2005) and an Oscar for Best Documentary (nominated, 2005).

by: Jake Pugsley

 

 

Works Cited

“Awards for Super Size Me (2004).” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

Dugdale, Helen. “Super Size Me.” CineSchool. Film Education, 2006. Web. 9 Apr. 2013.

“Morgan Spurlock Bio.” Morgan Spurlock Biography and Filmography. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013

The Reason Behind it All: Obesity

v0T6Px on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

Image Courtesy of: (Centers for Disease Control)

Percent of Obese (BMI > 30) in U.S. Adults

To fully understand and appreciate the reason for Morgan Spurlock’s decent into fast food chaos, it is important to know why the topic of obesity is so relevant in America.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17% of all children ages 2-19 and 35.7% of all adults are obese. Children and adults listed as obese place their health in serious danger. Health risks included with the onset of obesity include an increase in risk for:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Dyslipidemia (high cholesterol)
  • Liver and gallbladder disease
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)

Changing the Scales

scale

Image Courtesy of: (Nevada Public Health Foundation)

According to the CDC, from 1998 to 2003 the prevalence of obesity increased from 13.05% to 15.21%, and the prevalence of extreme obesity increased from 1.75% to 2.22%. It was in 2003 that Morgan Spurlock first took note of the ever growing epidemic in America and set out to prove that the root cause of it was the fast food industry. Interestingly enough, after the film’s release on January 17th, 2004 (imdb.com), a new trend began. The CDC states that from 2003 through 2010  the prevalence of obesity decreased slightly from 15.21% to 14.94%. Similarly, the prevalence of extreme obesity decreased from 2.22% to 2.07%. It was following the aftermath of the release of Super Size Me that fast food corporations such as McDonald’s started adding healthier menu items, an interesting correlation to be sure.

Although the number of obese American’s had decrease slightly, obesity is still a very real and (pardon the pun) very large problem. Morgan Spurlock did his part, now it’s time to do ours.

by: Kailee Moore

Works Cited:

“Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Aug.

                  2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

“Data and Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Jan.

                  2013. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

“The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control

                  and Prevention, 17 Aug. 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

“Super Size Me.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

Morgan Spurlock: Before and After

morgan_body

Image Courtesy of (Revelation Now)

Morgan Spurlock Before and After 30 days of eating McDonald’s food.

The following graphs show the substantial impact that 30 continuous days of eating McDonald’s fast food had on the physical health of director and star of Super Size Me.

Weight

Before: 185.5   After: 210.5

weight

Cholesterol

Before: 168   After: 225

cholesterol

Blood Pressure

Before: 130/105   After: 150/90

Blood Pressure

Image Courtesy of (The American Heart Association)

Liver Enzymes

Before: SGOT – 21 SGPT -20   After: SGOT- 130 SGPT- 290

enzymes

by: Jake Pugsley and Kailee Moore

Works Cited:

Supersize Me. Dir. Morgan Spurlock. Perf. Morgan Spurlock. Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Showtime

             Independent Films, 2004. DVD

The Aftermath: How Super Size Me Effected the Fast Food Industry

mcdonalds-tower

Image Courtesy of: (Heavy.com)

McDonald’s on Super Size Me:

“A super-sized distortion of the quality, choice and variety available at McDonald’s.”

                                                                                                                                       –The Associated Press (2004)

So… did it work?

Despite the shocking results of Spurlock’s film, the fast food industry and McDonald’s in particular declined to say that the documentary had any impact on their business. However, interestingly enough, one day before the release of the movie, McDonald’s introduced a new “Go Active” menu.  Even though they claim to have not been affected by the documentary’s findings, they clearly felt the pressure to add healthy options on their menu before the general public viewed the movie. By doing this, advocates against McDonald’s had less ammunition to use against the company. This way, McDonald’s could claim that their campaign to get healthy happened before the movie’s release and therefore had no impact on the decision. However, the timing between the release of their “Go Active” campaign and the release of the movie is clearly related. McDonald’s knew that the movie would have adverse affects on their image so in order to lessen the blow; they preemptively made the changes to their menu.

In writer Oliver Burkeman’s interview with Morgan Spurlock for the online magazine The Gaurdian, Spurlock reiterates that if McDonald’s was as healthy as they claim, he should have theoretically been fine after eating it for 30 days:

“A spokesman for McDonald’s comes on TV and says listen, you can’t link our food to these girls being obese. Our food is healthy, it’s nutritious. So I said, well, if it’s that good for me, shouldn’t I be able to eat it for 30 days straight with no side-effects? To live the all-American diet of over-eating and under-exercising, and be fine?”

In fact, the entire premise of the film was in response to this inquiry. Below is a short clip of Morgan Spurlock talking about how he came up with his questioning of just how “healthy” McDonald’s truly was:

Six and a half years after Super Size Me was released, Spurlock did a follow up interview in which he discussed and fielded questions about life after the movie. When asked which fast food restaurants have done the most to comply with better nutritional practices, he responded:

“That’s a good question. One which I probably don’t have the best answer for…”

Spurlock then pointed out the fact many fast food chains now offer healthier options and that the fast food industry simply say these changes are merely “coincidental” in taking place during the release of the film . Yeah, okay.

From the perspective of the fast food industry, the healthy changes made had little or nothing to do with the documentary. However, it is painfully obvious that major changes occurred after the release of the movie despite an admittance from fast food chains.

Compared to 2002, people nowadays expect a great deal more from the food industry. We still want our food fast but we also want it healthy thanks to the eye opening documentary from Morgan Spurlock.

by: Kevin Mallory

Works Cited

Burkeman, Oliver. “‘Your Liver Is Turning into Pate'” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 15

         July 2004. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

The Associated Press. “McDonald’s Phasing out Supersize Fries, Drinks.” Msnbc.com. The Associated

         Press, 3 Mar. 2004. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

“Full Menu Explorer.” McDonalds.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

Spurlock on Super Size Me. Perf. Morgan Spurlock. YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013

Is it Healthier? Changes to the McDonald’s Menu

press release

Image Courtesy of: (icaa.eu/)

Still think Super Size Me had no effect on McDonald’s?

mcdonalds 2002

Image Courtesy of: (cockeyed.com)

This is the serving menu from McDonald’s in the year 2002. After extensively studying the menu, there are a few items of note that should be considered:

  • Combo sizes include: MEDIUM, LARGE or SUPER SIZE
  • There are only 3 salad choices
  • Breakfast includes: BACON, EGG, CHEESE, SAUSAGE COMBOS, PANCAKES, HASH-BROWNS and BURRITOS
  • Happy Meals do NOT offer a choice of sides
  • Nutritional information is NOT included

Compare this to the current menu options:

McDonalds-Full-Menu-2013

Image Courtesy of: (familylifeinlv.com)

This is the serving menu from McDonald’s in the year 2013. After extensively studying the menu, there are a few items of note that compared to 2002 should be considered:

  • Combo sizes include: SMALL, MEDIUM, or LARGE
  • There is NO Super Size
  • OATMEAL WITH FRUIT AND WALNUTS added to breakfast
  • Happy Meals offer a choice of sides such as: FRIES, APPLE SLICES, MILK, CHOCOLATE MILK and APPLE JUICE
  • Nutritional information is included for ALL menu items
  • There is an UNDER 400 CALORIES section
  • There is an addition of WRAPS and GRILLED SANDWICHES

It is clear that McDonald’s made an effort to incorporate healthier foods to the menu, but it doesn’t mean that exclusively eating McDonald’s food would lead to a healthy lifestyle even now. If Morgan Spurlock filmed the movie again today with the same rules—consuming every item on the menu at least once —there would be a “healthier” outcome, but his health would still deteriorate in some fashion.

Although they have incorporated healthier alternatives on the menu, the fact of the matter is that McDonald’s has done little to remove or change the fatty foods that existed ten years ago. We are however, more aware of what we are consuming.

by: Kevin Mallory and Kailee Moore

Complete Works Cited

Works Cited

“Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and

             Prevention, 13 Aug. 2012. Web. 10 Apr.2013.

“Awards for Super Size Me (2004).” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

Burkeman, Oliver. “‘Your Liver Is Turning into Pate'” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 15

             July 2004. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

“Data and Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and

             Prevention, 11 Jan. 2013. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

Dugdale, Helen. “Super Size Me.” CineSchool. Film Education, 2006. Web. 9 Apr. 2013.

“Full Menu Explorer.” McDonalds.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

“Morgan Spurlock Bio.” Morgan Spurlock Biography and Filmography. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

The Associated Press. “McDonald’s Phasing out Supersize Fries, Drinks.” Msnbc.com. The Associated

             Press, 3 Mar. 2004. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

“The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers

             for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Aug. 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

Spurlock on Super Size Me. Perf. Morgan Spurlock. YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

“Super Size Me.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

Supersize Me in 7 mins: How too much of McDonald’s will make you feel. Perf. Morgan Spurlock.

             YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

Supersize Me. Dir. Morgan Spurlock. Perf. Morgan Spurlock. Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn

             Films, Showtime Independent Films, 2004. DVD