Super Size Me is the brainchild of Morgan Spurlock and the concept of the documentary is: Eat nothing but McDonald’s food for 30 days. So that means, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Morgan Spurlock will have had to have eaten every single menu item at least once and if he is asked by the cherck if he would like the super sized meal, he has to say yes. He wants to have a similar life of those who eat a lot of fast food, he will not do any exercise in those 30 days and he limited himself to walk under 5000 steps per day
In light of today’s 60% obesity rate in the United States, this is an extremely important documentary. It’s an eye opening and shocking look at the effects of fast food on the body. Before Morgan starts his experiment, he visits not one, but three doctors (each practicing a different specialty) and has each of them conduct a battery of tests and get baseline measurements of his overall and specific health status. He also consults a dietician and a personal trainer.
He starts out as a healthy guy, actually above average. He is 1,80 cm and weighs approximately 84kg. His cholesterol is under 200, and his body fat is a well below average 11%. Each of the doctors he informs about his upcoming experiment predicts minor effects: Triglyceride levels will increase along with cholesterol.
We come back to him on Day 3, and he’s happy as a clam, apparently his body having adjusted to the high fat/high sugar food. He likens it to quitting smoking: “If you make it Day 3, you’re home free.”
The film tracks his progress over the 30 days, and he stops in for check-ups along the way… the nutritionist is stunned when he puts on about 10 lbs in one week. As time progresses he literally goes through ups and downs: Feeling depressed for no reason, until he has a McDonald’s meal and then feels fine mood-wise, displaying the signs of addiction.
At points during the film he feels palpitations, has trouble breathing, and feels constriction in his chest. By about Week 3, the doctors are getting alarmed as tests indicate side effects far beyond what they predicted: His liver is showing signs of toxicity similar to that of someone who goes on a drinking binge, and he is warned to look out for signs of gout, a heart attack, and other nasty things.
By the end of the 30 days, Morgan's cholesterol has passed 90 kg by a wide margin, he gained almost 11,5 kg, his body fat has increased from 11% to 18% and his liver is on red alert. In the closing credits it’s mentioned that it took him 8 weeks to get his liver back to normal and over one year to get down to his previous weight.
- Eef Voeten