Super Size Me is an Academy Award-nominated 2004 documentary film, directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, an American independent filmmaker. It follows a 30-day time period (February 2003) during which Spurlock subsists exclusively on McDonald’s fast food and stops exercising regularly. The film documents this lifestyle’s drastic effects on Spurlock’s physical and psychological well-being and explores the fast food industry’s corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition for its own profit. During the filming, Spurlock dined at McDonald’s restaurants three times per day, sampling every item on the chain’s menu at least once. He consumed an average of 5,000 calories (the equivalent of 9.26 Big Macs) per day during the experiment.
The stated driving factor for Spurlock’s investigation was the increasing spread of obesity throughout U.S. society, which the Surgeon General has declared “epidemic,” and the corresponding lawsuit brought against McDonald’s on behalf of two overweight girls, who, it was alleged, became obese as a result of eating McDonald’s food. Spurlock points out that although the lawsuit against McDonald’s failed (and subsequently many state legislatures have legislated against product liability actions against producers and distributors of “fast food”), much of the same criticism leveled against the tobacco companies applies to fast food franchises (except that these companies never lied about their product), although it could be argued that fast food, though physiologically addictive, is not as addictive as nicotine.