Super Size Me
2004, New York Post -- LAST February, Morgan Spurlock decided to
become a gastronomical guinea pig.
His mission: To eat three meals a day for 30 days at McDonald's
and document the impact on his health.
Scores of cheeseburgers, hundreds of fries and dozens of chocolate
shakes later, the formerly strapping 6-foot-2 New Yorker - who started
out at a healthy 185 pounds - had packed on 25 pounds.
But his supersized shape was the least of his problems.
Within a few days of beginning his drive-through diet, Spurlock,
33, was vomiting out the window of his car, and doctors who examined
him were shocked at how rapidly Spurlock's entire body deteriorated.
"It was really crazy - my body basically fell apart over the
course of 30 days," Spurlock told The Post.
His liver became toxic, his cholesterol shot up from a low 165 to
230, his libido flagged and he suffered headaches and depression.
Spurlock charted his journey from fit to flab in a tongue-in-cheek
documentary, which he has taken to the Sundance Film Festival with
the hopes of getting a distribution deal. "Super Size Me"
explores the obesity epidemic that plagues America today - a sort
of "Bowling for Columbine" for fast food.
As well as documenting his own burger-fueled bulk-up, Spurlock travels
to 20 cities across America, interviewing people on the street,
health experts and a lobbyist for the fast-food industry. Despite
making dozens of phone calls, Spurlock fails to get anyone from
McDonald's to agree to an on-camera interview. A spokeswoman for
McDonald's told The Post yesterday that no representatives from
the corporation had seen "Super Size Me." "Consumers
can achieve balance in their daily dining decisions by choosing
from our array of quality offerings and range of portion sizes to
meet their taste and nutrition goals," McDonald's said in a
statement. Over the course of the film, Spurlock is regularly examined
by a gastroenterologist, a cardiologist and SoHo-based general practitioner
Dr. Daryl Isaacs. "He was an extremely healthy person who got
very sick eating this McDonald's diet," Dr. Isaacs told The
"None of us imagined he could deteriorate this badly - he looked
terrible. The liver test was the most shocking thing - it became
very, very abnormal." Spurlock has since returned to normal
health. "The treatment was to just stop doing what he was doing,"
Dr. Isaacs says. Spurlock, who says he ate at McDonald's only sporadically
before his total immersion in the Mickey D's menu, says he even
began craving fat and sugar fixes between meals. "I got desperately
ill," he says. "My face was splotchy and I had this huge
gut, which I've never had in my life. "My knees started to
hurt from the extra weight coming on so quickly. It was amazing
- and really frightening." Spurlock's girlfriend, Alex Jamieson,
was horrified - she's a vegan chef. "She was completely disgusted
by me, not happy at all," he says. "But she realized what
my goals were in trying to educate people." Spurlock, a film
producer who grew up in West Virginia and studied ballet for eight
years, was spurred to make his first feature film while watching
TV on Thanksgiving Day, 2002. "I was feeling like a typical
American on Thanksgiving - very bloated and happy on the couch -
and at some point on the news they were talking about two women
who were suing McDonald's. "People from the food industry were
saying, 'You can't link kids being fat to our food - our food is
nutritious.' "I said, 'How nutritious is it really? Let's find
out." Not surprisingly, Spurlock has steered clear of the Golden
Arches since filming wrapped. "I have not had McDonald's for
seven months, but yesterday, during an interview, I had a bite of
a Big Mac," he says. "I
chewed it up, swallowed it and I said, 'You know what, I'm pretty
much done after that bite.' "
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