Obesity Epidemic in America In Documentary 'Supersize Me'
14 years ago award winning director Morgan Spurlock flamboyantly demonstrated the consequences of trying to sustain yourself on a calorie filled diet. Over a 30-day period, the producer and star of the documentary ate nothing but McDonalds for his daily three meals. He also travels to three different schools to badger the lunch ladies criticize the food being served in cafeterias around America, and also looks into advertising campaigns of fast-food companies. The “remarkable” documentary ended up earning a delicious number of awards, taking away Writers Guild of America award for Best Documentary Screenplay in 2005 as well as an Academy Award nomination. According to the New York Times, 11 years before Supersize me in 1993, Spurlock graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Equipped with knowledge of film and cinematic fundamentals, the collage graduate had the skills needed to produce the entertaining yet overly fatty documentary. Throughout the hour and 40-minute film, the audience is assaulted with a number of embellished facts. Within the opening credits alone, Spurlock is featured reciting up to 15 figures on American obesity, majority of which rely on the audience’s lack of education on the topic rather than truthful data.
The assertion that there is an obesity epidemic in America, which is the foundation of this documentary’s “experiment” in the first place, is not true. Spurlock states that “since 19080 the number of obese Americans has nearly doubled…” when in reality, the averaged weight gain has only been a few pounds. So how did the number of overweight people in America increase by over 50 precent? Well, it happened overnight and not from a MacDonald’s binge like Spurlock suggests. Instead, in June of 1998, researchers decided to decrease the maximum healthy Body Mass Index from 27 to 25, and suddenly, millions of people were overweight. The 30 days in which Spurlock ate only McDonald’s food resulted in dramatic outcomes for his physical and psychological well being. He gained over 11 kilos in weight; his blood cholesterol went up; fat built up in his liver; and he experienced sexual dysfunction and swings in mood, all thanks to eating the recommended three meals a day. This may seem alarming but in reality results are not what they seem.
Further experiments undergone by both Swedish university doctor Fredrik Nyström and American High School teacher John Cisca, found inconsistencies with Spurlock’s research. According to The Daily Mail, Cisca tripled Spurlock’s 30-day experiment, following a “Mcdiet” for all three meals for 90 days. The end result was a loss of 39lbs, a result that directly contradicts Spurlock’s 24.5-pound weight gain. The Guardian revealed that Nyström completed his 30 day experiment under lab conditions, and while significant changes to the liver where observed, results where “never even close to dangerous”; opposite to the dramatic results doctors featured in the film saw after Spurlock apparently consumed 5000 calories per day.
Research undergone by computer programmer Tom Naughton came up with some meaty results when he believed Spurlock’s calorie intake just didn’t add up. According to Naughton, Spurlock simply couldn’t of consumed 5,000 calories per day at McDonald’s unless he was super-sizing, or eating more than three meals per day, (contrary to his rules of only three meals a day and super-sizing when he was asked (which was a total of nine times in the 30 day challenge)) or piling on extra sandwiches and desserts, drinking a lot of milkshakes, or some combination of the above.
Additionally Spurlock’s food log, which he makes reference to throughout the film, has not been released to the pubic, which makes it almost certain he gorged himself in order to gain a more impressive and dramatic amount of weight, rather then stick to his theory that the American public is becoming obese plainly by eating regular meals at the golden arches. So if he is not proving this notion, what is he proving? That forcing yourself to eat nearly more than double the 2,700 recommended daily calorie intake makes you fat, sick and sad (but also a lot of money).
It comes at no surprise that Supersize Me became a film of “epic proportions”. The combination of comedy; with overweight children singing about loving “McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut” as well as included animations and satire, along with shock value; with the visual of Spurlock regurgitating his McDonalds meal out the car window (an image which will now be permanently branded into the minds of viewers), resulted in an extremely successful film. According to The Numbers, “Supersize Me” with a budget of $65,000, generated $22,233,808 in revenue, nearly 345 times it’s budget! On top of this, Spurlock has created a new film named “Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!” which looks into the chicken fast food industry and is set for release in 2018. Most ironically of all, Morgan Spurlock has joined the fast food game himself, opening a restaurant in Westerville, Ohio, one of the 15 most overweight states in America. It is clear that Spurlock’s documentary constructs it’s own reality. The distortion of fact, misleading and fabricated test results and motive for personal gain and profit, shows viewers who are willing to research further on the topic, that Supersize Me is no more than a revenue producing stunt. This documentary relies on a combination of already known fact; that bing eating is not good for you , comedy and shocking visuals to appeal to audiences around the world rather then simply serving information. Supersize Me makes obvious that Spurlock wasn’t after the corporate cow producing Big Mac patties; he was after another cow… the cash cow.
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