Making the Grades
With obesity on the rise in North America, it is no surprise filmmakers would eventually take a look at this growing dilemma. Contributing to increased health costs and lost man-hours, the weight issue is a hefty problem facing our society. In his documentary Super Size Me, first time director and writer, Morgan Spurlock, singles out the fast food industry as a culprit in the crisis and personally takes them on.
Putting himself in front of the camera, he subjects his body to one month of fast food at McDonalds. The rules are simple. He can't eat or drink anything that's not on the menu, he has to try everything at least once and he must super size the meal if asked.
Employing the help of three physicians and a fitness facility, Morgan undergoes testing before, during and after his research to chart any changes in his health.
Given to whining after only five days on the diet, Morgan and his increasingly concerned vegan girlfriend don't always elicit the kind of sympathy he may have envisioned. But his sidebar interviews in corporate boardrooms, school lunchrooms and with medical professionals uncover many interesting facts about the promotion of food and nutrition to the mass market.
During the month, Morgan also travels the country, visiting outlets of the food giant and sampling their local specialties. In addition to the change in his eating habits, he also takes on a sedentary lifestyle similar to that of many Americans.
As the pounds pack on and the health risks increase, Morgan points a pudgy finger at the buns and burgers he's consuming, using irreverent, satirical portrayals of child addicts and the Last Supper. But with past lawsuits aimed at the restaurant by obese customers, the industry is becoming ever more protective of its product.
At the same time, I can't help but question the personal responsibility for food choices. During his visits with kids in a cafeteria and ordinary people on the street, the lack of education or at least concern about diet is evident. The decreasing amount of time provided for physical education programs in schools and lack of sufficient exercise also are obvious contributors to a growing number of overweight children and adults.
Stuffing his face with fries, Morgan may have found an innovative way to persuade consumers to look at corporate and governmental involvement in the fast food industry. But the real value from his project will hopefully come from individuals thinking about their own eating habits and taking responsibility for themselves.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Super Size Me.
What is society’s ideal of the perfect body? What is considered to be beautiful? Are beautiful and healthy always the same thing?
What is the consumer’s personal responsibility when it comes to eating fast food? Should the government pass legislation about the selling of this product? What might be the fallout of such legislation?
Should fast food outlets and vending machines be allowed in the school setting? What kind of education programs might help students make better food choices? How often does your lunch resemble those of the students in this film?
What things, including his past drug and alcohol use, may have had an influence on Morgan’s health concerns during the fast food diet? What effects might his work and travel schedule during the filming of this movie have on his lack of well-being, sexual relations or energy level?