Morgan Spurlock

This just in! Eating Big Macs and Super Size fries every day will make you really fat!

That's not even the half of it, according to "Super Size Me," a film by hipster activist Morgan Spurlock. For the frequent Golden Arches customer, there's liver and heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even sexual dysfunction and depression waiting in the wings, too [see sidebar, p. 36].

Spurlock is hardly the first to take merciless cracks at fast food and those who consume it. But unlike, say, nutritionist authors, whose work has a limited audience, "Super Size Me" proved enormously popular and influential. Which is a pity, say restaurateurs, because the film's premise was a bit unfair.

Coupling the one-sided reporting of "Fahrenheit 9/11" and the gross-out hijinks of "Jackass," "Super Size Me" hangs on a premise that even the biggest glutton would find, well, gluttonous: What would happen if you ate nothing but McDonald's for a month, and Super Sized it every time you were asked?

Spurlock did and, not surprisingly, bad things happened. But did he emphasize the salads that have done so much to turn McDonald's around, or any of the other health-minded options on the menu? Nope. Spurlock's thrice-daily fare was predominantly giant cheeseburgers and enormous fries, and a veritable tub of soda to wash it down. Operators countered that the stunt was tantamount to drinking a keg of beer, then complaining of intestinal gas. Overindulgence, they said, ain't science.

Nonetheless, Spurlock did take on the obesity debate, something that's led QSR to add healthy menu items that have proven both popular and profitable. But many wish he'd done it a little less sensationally.


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