MOVIES

Is Morgan Spurlock’s Documentary Fake?

In 2006, Associate Professor Fredrik Nyström of Linköping University attempted to copy Spurlock’s “Super Size Me” results. Nyström initially tasked seven of his students, all in their 20s, to eat like Spurlock for thirty days. Some leeway was given in terms of breakfast; students could eat bacon and eggs for their first meal, for example. They were also allowed to trade in burgers for pizza and didn’t have to solely rely on McDonald’s for their fast food – Nyström was more concerned with participants routinely consuming the necessary amount of saturated fats.

The findings of this experiment showed some stark differences from Spurlock’s experience. The first group of students’ livers showed some changes, but nothing as severe as what Spurlock went through. However, in later experiments, two participants in Nyström’s study did show increased fat build up in the liver, with another having to be pulled from the experiment entirely due to liver issues.  “Super Size Me” also showed the American filmmaker suffering from depression during the 30-day experiment; such a mental health impact was not reported in Nyström’s experiment, nor were serious spikes in cholesterol levels. 

Overall, it’s difficult to look at “Super Size Me” now without attaching some asterisks to it. The documentary’s findings can’t be applied to everyone. As any medical professional will tell you, all bodies are different. It also might be hard for some viewers to look past the documentary’s blunt parameters and think: “Who wouldn’t gain weight after consuming such a high amount of calories everyday?”

For viewers wanting to find that next docu-drama to binge, be sure to check out Looper’s coverage of 98 fantastic documentaries and 30 of Netflix’s best documentaries.

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