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Super Size Me

Big Mac Attack

This startling documentary from filmmaker Morgan Spurlock should come with a disclaimer: WARNING: After watching this film you may never eat the same way ever again. At least not with a clear conscience and the fear of death.

Mr. Spurlock fearlessly examines the way people in America eat today by embarking on a masochistic mission that nearly sends him to an early grave. So how does a thirty-something man of above average health completely destroy his body? It's simple: just eat nothing but McDonald's for thirty days.

Our illustrious United States gets the "the fattest nation in the world" award; Mississippi is the fattest state in the country. A whopping 60% of our population is obese with the rate of juvenile obesity rising at alarming rates. As Super Size Me uncovers, the way in which many of us eat and exercise (or rather lack thereof) has a direct and deadly correlation to this epidemic.

In this celluloid Fast Food Nation, Spurlock both literally undergoes a physical transformation, as he subjects himself to the nasty eating and lifestyle habits of many of our fellow brethren, and uncovers the greasy truth behind the marketing tour de force that shapes how our taste buds are formed. McDonald's corners 43% of the fast food market and, as the leading purveyor of 'un-health' food, is the subject of Spurlock's experiment. The point of his dynamic research: how bad is fast food actually for you?

For the experiment, Spurlock had to adhere to three basic rules: he could only consume McDonald's for a whole thirty days- that includes water (thus, if they don't sell it at McDonald's, he couldn't have it); if he was offered the chance to 'super size' he had to accept (and finish the whole meal, which you will see him do in graphic, horrible detail the first time he does so); and he had to eat everything on the menu at least once. That's a whole lot of Big Mac. In addition to his eating habits, he also had to change his lifestyle-which meant no more exercise and a lot of lounging. The average Big Apple resident supposedly walks four to five miles a day while the average American walks less than two thousand steps a day, so as a New Yorker Spurlock had to get a pedometer and move no more than his daily share of two thousand steps. As if his life wasn't already turned upside down, his girlfriend is a vegan chef (translation: meat = evil).

Before he embarks on his journey to hell, Spurlock enlists the aid of three doctors: an internist, a gastroenterologist/hepatologist and a cardiologist. On top of that he signs up with a nutritionist and physiologist. He undergoes a complete work-up that includes numerous blood tests and even an anal exam (!). The prognosis before the experiment was that of an above-average healthy male with no previous history of disease, and that his temporary fat-saturated diet would- at most- have an effect on his cholesterol levels. The diagnosis afterwards is shocking, even to the health care officials. By the time his thirty days are up, Spurlock has gained twenty pounds, practically destroys his liver, suffers from impotence, depression, lethargy and sever mood swings. In short, his health is a mess.

Besides his own personal look at fast food, he includes startling interviews with nutrionists (did you know that a plain bagel with no toppings is the caloric equivalent of eating five slices of white bread?), exposÚs about public-school cafeteria lunch programs and statistics about how the way in which we eat is constantly influenced by a barrage of campaigns geared towards turning a buck for 'the man' and getting consumers hooked.

Super Size Me is a well-researched and insightful film that no one living in this country should miss. But, be forewarned, after this movie you might never eat fast food again and you'll be motivated to get off your lazy ass and get some exercise (note to readers: I myself walked three miles right after watching the movie).

Stars: 5 out of 5