After watching Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Super Size Me, comedian and former health writer, Tom Naughton had a few problems with the conclusions that the film presented. When Spurlock, in Super Size Me, decides to spend one month eating just McDonald’s food, he not only gains a huge amount of weight, but sees his moods fluctuate and his cholesterol soar. Taking on Spurlock’s own experiment as a dare, Naughton proved that you could actually lose weight and lower your cholesterol on a diet of fries and burgers. Beyond using his own experience as a centerpiece of the film, he interviews doctors and nutritionists who weigh in on the issue. Shedding light on an already complicated obesity and health problem, Naughton demonstrates how a low-calorie diet works and the importance of feeling full instead of going hungry.
Approaching a rather serious subject with a good dose of humor, this documentary is an enlightening counterpoint to many other recent films about the food and diet industry. It offers the other side of the coin, framed in a very entertaining format. Naughton approaches his challenge with curiosity, passion and knowledge. Unwilling to just rely on broad generalizations and so called common sense; he delves just a bit deeper to find his answers.
This film in conversation with other food documentaries just goes to prove that our assumptions are not always correct and that the issue of health is far more complicated than we might believe. Does that mean that Naughton’s thesis is the correct and ultimate response to obesity and diet? Not necessarily. It’s just that diet and health is a bit more nuanced than “McDonald’s = bad.” This is a film that suggests that making choices about health is about being informed and asking the right questions. It is not simply following one diet or another, but actively engaging with the practice of healthy eating and health education.