A U.S. filmmaker was so intrigued by McDonald’s claim its food was nutritious that he ate all his meals at the fast-food giant for a month.
The result? Twenty-five extra pounds, higher cholesterol and an award-winning documentary of his fast-food journey, “Super Size Me: A Film of Epic Portions.”
Morgan Spurlock hit the morning TV shows Thursday to promote his film on surviving on a McDonald’s diet, little more than a day after the company said it would end oversized portions by the end of the year.
His tongue-in-cheek look at America’s obesity crisis illustrates the effects of gorging on fast-food fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“I felt terrible. You eat this food and you feel great immediately, but right after you get the McStomach aches, the McHeadaches — you get depressed,” the New York-based director said on NBC’s “Today” show.
Spurlock, 33, said he first got the idea after stuffing himself with Thanksgiving dinner in 2002. He was lounging on the sofa at his childhood home in West Virginia when he saw a story about a lawsuit filed on behalf of two girls who claimed McDonald’s caused their obesity. The suit was dismissed.
When McDonald’s defended itself by saying its food was nutritious, Spurlock decided to test that claim.
“I thought if it’s that good for me I should eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” show.
When he began his McDonald’s binge, he weighed 185 pounds . He ballooned to 210 pounds by the end. His cholesterol rose by 60 points.
McDonald’s Super Size option, which includes a 7-ounce carton of fries and a 42-ounce fountain soda, has been targeted by critics as contributing to America’s obesity crisis.
Giant proportionsMcDonald’s, the world’s biggest fast-food outlet, has given a cool reception to the documentary, which won an award at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is to be distributed across America later this year.
Spurlock said he had not intentionally picked on McDonald’s but used it as a symbol for bad eating habits.
As part of his experiment, Spurlock accepted any offer made by servers of a mega-size portion.
“That thing is like four feet tall,” jokes Spurlock in the documentary, referring to an outsize portion of French fries, which the company says contains 610 calories.
Asked whether he gained weight because he purposefully ate only high-calorie items, Spurlock said he went through the menu several times over and ate a salad about every 10th meal.
McDonald’s says its menu has enough variety and range to fall within recommended guidelines for calories, fat and nutrients.
“But people don’t go to these fast food restaurants for salads. They go for things that taste good — the burgers, the fries, the sugary shakes, the giant sodas,” Spurlock told NBC.
McDonald’s said menu changes were not in any way linked to the movie but were rather to “support a balanced lifestyle.”
“This film had a tremendous impact on their decision to eliminate super-size portions and it is really going to have an impact on people who see the movie on how they see their own diet,” he said.
Since going off McDonald’s, Spurlock has lost about 20 pounds but says the last few are proving hard to shed.