Super Size Me

Super Size Me and the effects of fast food on childhood obesity. Does fast food cause childhood obesity? Does the Super Size Me movie give us some clues? Let's take a look.

Most of us are familiar with the concept of “super sizing”, the fast food industry’s classic upsell to a larger sized food product. Though studies show that since the late 1970’s portion sizes in both the home and restaurants have increased, it is the significant leap in the size of fast food offerings such as soft drinks (the average size increasing more than 50%, from 13 fluid ounces to 20 fluid ounces and burgers (moving from 5.8 ounces to 7.3 ounces), and the increased amount of times in a week that those larger fast food meals are being eaten that is of major concern.

How much of a major concern? Ask Morgan Spurlock.

In 2003, director Morgan Spurlock decided to feature himself in a fast food experiment documented in the award winning film, Super Size Me. Why? He was pondering the reasons American were so fat and decided an experiment to determine if fast food was playing a role in that rising obesity epidemic was in order. The experiment’s criteria:

  • 30 days of eating only food from McDonald’s
  • every item on the menu had to be eaten at least once
  • if offered the choice to “Super size that?”, he had to say “yes
  • and in an effort to more closely mimic the “fastfood” lifestyle, Spurlock would do almost zero exercise (he limited himself to under 5,000 steps per day).

Before beginning to eat what might seem like every teenager’s dream monthly menu plan, Spurlock had himself thoroughly checked out by three healthcare practitioners—a general practitioner, a cardiologist and a gastroenterologist. All three determined him to be in exceptionally good health. The exercise physiologist he met with found similar outstanding results with Spurlock’s fitness evaluation.

Next stage was moving Spurlock into a van and onto a 25,000-mile long road trip that would cover McDonald’s locations in 20 cities. Super Size Me documents the journey, the meals, the interactions with various people—everybody from regular folks to wellness experts—on the pros and cons of a fast food diet and, in an effort to ensure Spurlock was not doing irreparable damage to his health, Spurlock’s regular interactions with his medical doctors.

Even if you haven’t seen Super Size Me, if you’ve checked out Childhood Obesity 101’s fast food and obesity information, you can likely guess the results. (NB Spoiler warning!) By the end of the experiment (which in the latter stages, Spurlock comments that “the days couldn’t go by fast enough for me . . I just wanted the experience to be over.”), Spurlock has gained 25 pounds and was suffering a range of health complaints including headaches, fatigue and indigestion. In addition, medical testing showed elevated cholesterol levels, increased levels of uric acid and a mild chemical hepatitis.

And all this in 30 days.

Moral of the Super Size Me story? More food for less money may seem like a bargain. But when a documented negative impact on you and your child’s health, longevity and overall quality of life are part of the deal, saying “Yes” to fast food, super sized or not, is one colossal bad idea.


Need more reasons to go with with healthy, hearty and proper portion sizes of “slow food”? Check out Childhood Obesity 101’s other Fast Food and Nutrition pages:

Effects of Fast Food
and High Fructose Corn Syrup

 Get additional support by visiting my Kids in Balance site or by purchasing, through the site, my book that fully details how to successfully put the KIB program in place in your own home, Overweight Kids in a Toothpick World.


Return from Super Size Me to Fast Food Causes Obesity

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