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'Super Size Me' filmmaker Morgan Spurlock dies at age 53

The documentary recounted his 30-day regimen of eating nothing but McDonald's food. It became an anthem of sorts for critics who faulted fast-food chains for their contribution to America's obesity epidemic.
Morgan Spurlock | Photo: Shutterstock

Morgan Spurlock, who documented his 30-day regimen of eating nothing but McDonald’s food in the celebrated 2004 film “Super Size Me,” died Thursday at age 53.

His family gave the cause of death as cancer.

Spurlock was a little-known New York City playwright until he decided in 2003 to see what would happen if he ate three meals a day from McDonald’s and nothing else for a month.  The idea came to him while watching news coverage of a lawsuit in which two teenage girls sought damages from the Golden Arches for allegedly making them obese.

Spurlock filmed his experiences of eating an exclusively McDonald’s diet, and it wasn’t pretty. The footage showed him gaining about 25 pounds and noticeably bloating, and he blamed the food for the development of liver disease. It was later discovered that Spurlock had been a heavy drinker for three decades, and suggestions were floated by his critics that the boozing was the source of his internal problems.

Nevertheless, Spurlock became a celebrity spokesperson of sorts for the advocacy groups that accused fast-food chains at the time of having an outsized role in causing America’s widespread obesity.

“Super Size Me” was nominated for the 2004 Academy Award for the Best Documentary Feature but did not win.

Spurlock would produce a number of subsequent documentaries, including ones that looked at drive-thrus and the future of America’s food production, but none drew the same critical acclaim and public attention as his breakthrough hit.

In 2017, at the height of the Me Too movement, the director stunned his public following by acknowledging that he had sexually harassed women through much of his adult life, starting in college. His confession was contrite, but it led to the cancellation of a sequel to “Super Size Me.”

He had lived quietly afterward in upstate New York.  

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