Ethics of Fast Food in Super Size Me: Review Analysis Essay

Super Size Me Summary and Essay Review

The documentary film Super Size Me illuminates the fast food industry and the morality and impact of its capitalism on the US citizens and their health. Morgan Spurlock, the director of the film, first introduces the recent lawsuit on McDonald’s, where two obese girls are suing the fast food chains for the cause of their obesity and deteriorating health. By interviewing many people, Morgan calls attention to the various perspectives of the issue of fast food capitalism. Some believe that fast food chains are not at fault for many of America’s obese people because citizens have a choice to eat there or not, while others believe that yes, fast food companies like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King among many are responsible for the detriment of the health of citizens around the world. Through Super Size Me, we as audience members also gain insight into the immense influence fast food industries have on especially the youth population by encouraging poor nutrition through fast food and thus negatively impacting their future health and food choices.

Movie poster of Super Size Me film, directed and starring Morgan Spurlock
Movie poster of Super Size Me film, directed and starring Morgan Spurlock

The Moral and Business Ethics of Fast Food Chains

                Intrigued by these two conflicts regarding the capitalism of fast food chains, Morgan Spurlock thus embarks on a one month experiment of eating solely McDonald’s, one of the largest food chain companies in the world. For every meal, Morgan Spurlock challenges himself to consume McDonald’s each day of the month, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Supersize Me addresses a vital thesis evaluating not only the impact eating fast food has on one’s health but also the question of how truly moral it is to have fast food companies influencing the health of the American population through its food capitalism. Through a greasy diet composing only of McDonald’s, gradually, we see Morgan’s health deteriorate, from vomiting to liver fattening to visible weight gain. As I followed along on Morgan’s journey, I found the accumulating effect of fast food consumption in just one week disturbing. The weight scale dramatically tips for Morgan Spurlock at a whopping 210 pounds or 11 kg by the end of the month. We see clearly there are no health benefits to eating McDonald’s every day, yet what is not stopping people from around the world from continuing to eat fast food?

Super Size Me Summary Statistics on Morgan Spurlock; Body Change from Day 1 to End of Experiment
Super Size Me Summary Statistics on Morgan Spurlock; Body Change from Day 1 to End of Experiment

Super Size Me: A Review Impact on Children

Examining the influence of fast food on our younger populations, we learn about the prevalence of fast food, especially in school cafeterias and media. In one specific scene, Morgan visits a school and discovers that many of the students are buying junk food, such as chips and fries. After talking to the cafeteria ladies, he is astounded by the fact that only 6 meals out of 32 meals a month are cooked directly, and that the rest of the school meals are frozen and simply pre-heated before serving. None of the food is freshly made. In another scene, an interviewer shows pictures of faces to first graders, asked to determine who the person is. Unfortunately, many of the children recognized Ronald McDonald more than George Washington our first US president.

In a survey with young children, Ronald McDonald is recognized more than George Washington, America's first president in Super Size Me movie.
In a survey with young children, Ronald McDonald is recognized more than George Washington, America’s first president in Super Size Me movie.

Capitalism in Super Size Me and the Health of the American People

                Morgan Spurlock in Super Size Me struggles to reconcile these disturbing facts with a contrary perspective – that just like any other company, fast food companies aim to make money, suggesting that there may be nothing wrong with fast food chains capitalizing on fast food and enhancing their name recognition in the regular household. This dichotomy is continuously explored throughout the film, portraying fast food capitalism as harsh for the American people’s health, yet also understandable from the business perspective of fast food chains whose profits are their main goals. Ultimately from his journey, Morgan suggests that the battle against corporate fast food influence is ongoing, but limiting fast food through personal choice and health consciousness is imperative in order to elevate the health of our American citizens and their diets.

Summary of Super Size Me

Morgan Spurlock gained a total of 24.5 pounds (11 kg) at the end of his experiment Super Size Me.

  • First weigh-in: Morgan Spurlock gained 8 pounds (3.5 kg), putting his weight at 203.5 lb (92 kg).
  • Last weigh-in: By the end of the month, Morgan Spurlock weighed about 210 pounds (95.5 kg). 
  • Morgan Spurlock’s Experiment to eat McDonalds every day for 1 month lasted from February 1 to March 2, 2003

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