Big Mac attack

LOUIS B. HOBSON

, Last Updated: 2:43 PM ET

Americans are the fattest people in the world.

"Everything's bigger in America," begins Supersize Me, the much-talked-about documentary about fake food for fun and profit. Supersize Me is light, bright and easily digested, but jam-packed with crucial information. In 100 minutes, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock manages to sum up and illustrate the biggest health problem in North America today, and all with snappy visuals and a witty use of music.

When he heard that a couple of obese young women were taking McDonald's to court, Spurlock decided to go on a crazed McDonald's-only diet for a month -- just to see what would happen. What happened to Spurlock is that he gained 25 pounds in 30 days and speedily ate his way into bad health and depression. That much was predictable.

What's unexpected about Supersize Me is that Spurlock drops nuggests of crucial health and consumer information into his good-natured, crowd-pleasing movie and winds up creating a social document of such importance that it should be required viewing in schools, and the sooner, the better.

The marketing to children, the educational "gifts" that get candy bar and pop machines into schools, the behavioural problems in children who are badly fed, the lies, the profit, the manipulation, the addictive food additives -- Supersize Me is like a tiny perfect study course in terrifying corporate activities and toxic food. (On another level, the film can tell you many things you'll be sorry to know, such as how chicken nuggets are made. It's like the earth-shattering childhood experience of finding out what's in a hotdog and then trying ever after not to get a mental picture. Good luck.)

In the end, McDonald's isn't even the target of Supersize Me. Spurlock has said he could just as easily have gone after Burger King or Taco Bell, but he chose McDonald's because they are big enough to effect change for the good. And what McDonald's changes, everyone else will change too.

With Supersize Me, Spurlock kicks over the rock of national eating habits and what crawls out will horrify you. The corporate manipulation of America's eating habits and the resultant manufactured health crisis (and the fabulous profits that go with) is an ugly story, but somebody's got to tell it.

That Spurlock makes you laugh and keeps you interested throughout is the real triumph here.

Want fries with that?

(This film is rated G)


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